News and Press Releases

FORMER CREDIT UNION PRESIDENT AND FLORIDA A & M INSTITUTE DIRECTOR SENTECED TO PRISON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA - Eugene Telfair, 54, and Robert Nixon, 45, were sentenced to federal prison today for federal crimes arising from their embezzlement of more than $134,000 in federal HUD grant funds, announced United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh, Northern District of Florida.

At the conclusion of a four-day jury trial held last November in Tallahassee, Telfair, the former president of the FAMU Federal Credit Union, and Nixon, the former Director of Florida A&M University’s Institute on Urban Policy and Commerce were convicted of embezzling money from an organization receiving federal funds, conspiracy to commit that offense, and misapplication of monies entrusted to the care of a federally insured credit union.

Evidence presented at trial established that in 2008, Telfair and Nixon embezzled $134,255 in the form of four checks drawn on a FAMU Credit Union account containing HUD grant funds. Between 2002 and 2004, $324,000 in FAMU funds derived from HUD grants were deposited into the credit union account to fund a micro-loan program to assist small businesses in the Tallahassee area. While some of the monies in the account were used to make micro-loans and to fund related projects of the Institute on Urban Policy, more than half of the $324,000 in grant monies in the account went into the pockets of Telfair and Nixon. Telfair himself legitimately took $32,800 as an administrative fee for running the program between 2002 and 2004. Between June and December of 2008, however, the two men decided to split much of the unused balance of grant funds in the account, with Nixon writing Telfair approximately $14,000 in checks from the account, and then later both men writing each other a $60,067 check on the account. Defendants attempted to disguise the checks as administrative and consulting fees, and created false personal services contracts and tax documents to make the payments appear legitimate. Between 2002 and 2009, the taxpayer identification number on the grant account was changed three times.

At the time Nixon and Telfair took the money, Nixon was serving as the Director of the Institute on Urban Policy at FAMU. Nixon had taken over that position in 2005, when the previous Institute director, Patricia Walker-McGill, was fired. Walker-McGill was later indicted and convicted of federal grant fraud in 2008, based upon financial transactions she was involved in while Director of the Institute.

At the conclusion of today’s sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle sentenced Nixon to 27 months’ imprisonment and Telfair to 30 months in prison. Both men were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $134,255.

U.S. Attorney Marsh praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, whose joint investigation led to the convictions and sentences in this case.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rhew-Miller.

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