Tony Nelson and Lance Young Sentenced On Public Corruption Charges
Jacksonville, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan today sentenced Tony Nelson (56, Jacksonville) to 40 months in federal prison for conspiracy, honest services mail fraud, bribery, money laundering, and lying to the FBI. The court's decision regarding the forfeiture of $139,000, which was traceable to proceeds of the offense, remains pending. The court also ordered Nelson to serve a one-year term of supervised release, with a special condition that he perform 200 hours of community service. Finally, the court ordered Nelson to pay $3,600 in special assessments.
Lance W. Young (47, Orlando) was sentenced today for conspiring with Nelson to commit the crimes. Young received 20 months in federal prison and a fine of $100,000. As part of his sentence, the court also ordered Young to serve a one-year term of supervised release with a special condition that he perform 500 hours of community service and pay a special assessment of $100.
Tony Nelson was found guilty on May 20, 2011, following a multi-week jury trial. Lance Young previously pled guilty to conspiracy on October 25, 2010.
According to court documents, at the times alleged in the indictment, Nelson was a director of the Jacksonville Port Authority (JPA). Young's company, Subaqueous Services, Inc. (SSI) was a dredging company with contractual business at JPA. In the summer of 2006, Nelson approached Young and demanded to be placed on SSI's "payroll" in exchange for Nelson's continued influence for SSI at JPA. Young agreed to make monthly payments of $8,500 to Nelson. Young paid $102,000 to his lobbyist, who then entered into sham consulting agreements with Nelson, under which Nelson was paid $8,500 per month through a company (Ja-Ash, Inc.) that he controlled. Nelson received a total of $93,500 in payments. The sham agreements provided an appearance that the funds were for legitimate business, but testimony at trial revealed that Nelson provided no services for the lobbyist's firm, and the jury found the payments to be bribe money.
Once the monthly payments from SSI's lobbyist ran out, Nelson and Young agreed that Nelson's bribe payments would continue to accrue until Young sold SSI, which took place in February 2008. Shortly after the sale, Young hand-delivered a check for $50,000 that was made payable to Muirfield Partners, another one of Nelson's corporations. After depositing that check, and in an effort to hide and conceal the true nature of the bribe payment, Nelson contacted a representative from his bank and instructed the bank to write the word "loan" on the memo line of the check. Nelson subsequently lied to the FBI when he was questioned about his relationship with SSI and the $50,000 check.
Nelson also made a number of false denials about having a relationship with SSI, including during a recorded interview with a Port ethics officer and a letter Nelson commissioned an attorney to write denying any relationship and threatening a lawsuit to an individual who raised the issue.
This case was investigated by the FBI. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark B. Devereaux and Mac D. Heavener.