NO VIOLENCE, NO BURGLARIES OR ROBBERIES
As 2018 draws to a close, it is a time of giving for many people and businesses here in Jacksonville and the North Florida area. A handful of seemingly successful people are facing charges or have entered pleas to charges of theft, embezzlement, schemes to defraud, insurance fraud and theft of government funds. If someone included in this post has entered a plea the the charges, that person no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence and is awaiting sentencing. All others mentioned, who have not entered pleas, are entitled to the continued presumption of innocence and to the assistance of their counsel. These particular defendants all happen to be well educated. They all made salaries above the local average standard of living. Most took advantage of being placed into a position of trust, had access to some form of cash or disbursements, and lastly, a few operated in organizations that were grossly incompetent in the area of basic internal accounting controls. There is absolutely no violence in these alleged crimes. No victim had their car burglarized, home or business burglarized or a gun stuck in their face as they went to an ATM. These crimes took place, per reading the reports, by simple email correspondence or mainly by the filling out of paperwork on nothing more than 8 1/2 x11 copy paper. It is doubtful that any of these defendants ever had even the slightest criminal record, otherwise, they would not have held their former pre-arrest positions. These were crimes of opportunity. These cases always have a paper trail and are difficult to defend. The cases can be prosecuted by the Federal Government or State of Florida.
“STEALING WHEN I SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUYING” ( ROCK BAND URIAH HEEP, 1973)
Three of the largest series of fraud and thefts locally, as charged, involved the the setting up of false vendors with subsequent false invoices, for goods and or services that never existed, that one’s employer, client or SBA loan administrator would then disburse funds against. Two former Jacksonville City Council members are are, so far, heading to trial in a case where an SBA loan and a loan from the city of Jacksonville were granted for a business to produce and market Barbeque sauce. Here is that indictment. Again these defendants are presumed innocent are all represented by very competent attorneys. In St. Johns County, the highest ranking civilian employee of the Sheriff’s office reportedly stole around $700,000 over several years. She is accused of creating fake vendors, issuing fake purchase orders, creating fake invoices, approving disbursements/payments against those invoices and then mailing the government checks to a couple of addresses she supplied. She was reportedly stealing, among other grant money that was allocated by the federal government to fight the opioid addiction crisis in St. Johns County. Two coworkers apparently turned her in. She was never suspected of any wrongdoing as a result of an audit. The Sheriff, David Shoar, seemed crushed by this woman’s arrest. She had been at the agency since she started in her teens, obtained a bachelor’s degree and eventually became the top administrative civilian as finance director. For years her office was steps away from the Sheriff and she was on a direct reporting basis to him. This case will be prosecuted in state court in St. Augustine, however, the investigation was done by the Polk County Sheriff’s office and the prosecutor assigned is from a completely different circuit, the 10th circuit, on what is called a Governor’s Assignment to eliminate even the perception of impropriety. The Sheriff also thinks the department will somehow recover the almost $700,000 even when the investigation determined that only $9,000 remained. Per the news articles the defendant worked around 15 feet from the Sheriff in an office close to his and when confronted supposedly stated she had a “spending addiction.” Continue reading