Former COO of Louisiana Construction Management Company and Brother-In-Law Charged in Fraud Scheme
Former COO Sentenced Yesterday to 60 Months in Prison for Role in Related Scheme
WASHINGTON – Mark J. Titus, former Chief Operations Officer of Garner Services Ltd. (GSL), and his brother-in-law Dominick Fazzio, have been charged in a second superseding indictment returned today by a federal grand jury in New Orleans for defrauding GSL of over $1 million, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The 32-count indictment returned today in U.S. District Court in New Orleans charges Titus and Fazzio with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and tax charges for participating in the fraud scheme. Fazzio has also been charged with a separate tax fraud scheme.
According to the second superseding indictment, between approximately May 2008 and approximately May 2011, Titus and Fazzio defrauded GSL, a construction management company based in Pascagoula, Miss., by creating and submitting fraudulent invoices for services never rendered on construction projects managed by GSL, causing payments to be made from GSL to two companies owned by Fazzio. The two defendants then allegedly laundered the money by engaging in a series of financial transactions for the purpose of concealing the illegal nature of the payments. According to the second superseding indictment, Titus and Fazzio also submitted false tax returns by improperly deducting the disbursement of their fraudulently obtained money as legitimate business activity and failing to report the money received from the fraud scheme as taxable income.
In addition, Fazzio is charged in connection with a tax fraud scheme perpetrated with Hendrikus Ton, the owner of Abe’s Boat Rentals in Belle Chase, La., and two other companies that provide services to offshore oil production facilities. Fazzio and Ton allegedly conspired to under-report income paid to employees of Ton’s by transferring taxable income from Abe's Boat Rentals to a dormant company, improperly deducting that money as legitimate business activity and using that money to pay employees of Abe’s Boat Rentals in order to conceal the actual amount of income paid to the employees, thereby reducing the tax liability of Ton’s companies by over $3.5 million. According to the second superseding indictment, Fazzio prepared the tax returns for Ton’s companies and willfully omitted wages paid out of the dormant company.
In October 2011, Titus pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, arising from his role in a fraud scheme allegedly related to the scheme set forth in the second superseding indictment returned today. Last month, Titus moved to withdraw his October 2011 guilty plea, but the request was denied yesterday by U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle in the Eastern District of Louisiana, and sentencing proceeded yesterday as scheduled. U.S. District Judge Lemelle sentenced Titus yesterday to 60 months in prison on his guilty plea. Judge Lemelle also sentenced Titus to pay a $100,000 fine and ordered Titus to pay $925,320 in restitution to GSL.
An indictment is merely a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Peter Koski and Trial Attorneys Brian Lichter and Menaka Kalaskar of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Kennedy of the Eastern District of Louisiana. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the New Orleans Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division.