News and Press Releases

Three South Florida Defendants Sentenced for Kickback Scheme in Hurricane Wilma FEMA Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), David C. Nieland, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Miami Field Office, and Susan Benton, Sheriff, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, announced today’s sentencings of defendants Jeffrey Wayne Aunspaugh, a Port St. Lucie electrical contractor, his wife, Angela Aunspaugh, and Christopher Hale, his brother-in-law, in connection with a kickback scheme involving Hurricane Wilma disaster relief FEMA payments.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced Jeffrey Wayne Aunspaugh to 63 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Angela Aunspaugh was sentenced to 63 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Hale was sentenced to 30 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release.

On March 5, 2012, after a five-day trial in Ft. Pierce, the Aunspaughs were convicted of conspiracies to commit honest services mail fraud, money laundering, and structuring financial transactions to evade currency reporting requirements. The jury also convicted the pair on substantive charges of structuring financial transactions to evade currency reporting requirements. According to evidence presented at trial, Jeffrey and Angela Aunspaugh, owners of Ener-Phase Electric, Inc., obtained more than $1 million from subcontracts with Glades Utilities Services, Inc. for storm-related repairs following Hurricane Wilma in 2005. According to the evidence, the defendants paid more than $200,000 in cash kickbacks to their brother-in-law, Christopher Hale, who was the general manager of Glades Utilities Services, Inc., to obtain the contracts. Christopher Hale pled guilty to receiving the kickbacks.

To get the cash for the kickbacks, the Aunspaughs engaged in a series of structured withdrawals from their corporate bank account in amounts just under the amount necessary to trigger reports of cash transactions. In this way, the Aunspaughs withdrew $205,000 in cash in six months in 2006.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CID, the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Russell R. Killinger and Adam McMichael.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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