Would-Be Hartford Soccer Stadium Developer Guilty of Fraud and Money Laundering Offenses
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that a federal jury in Bridgeport today found JAMES C. DUCKETT JR., 45, guilty of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering offenses stemming from a scheme involving the redevelopment of Hartford’s Dillon Stadium and a plan to bring a professional soccer team to the city. The trial before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill began on June 26.
According to the evidence at trial, in September 2014, the City of Hartford entered into a professional services agreement with Mitchell Anderson and his company, Premier Sports Management Group (“PSMG”), to secure a professional soccer team and to develop a new, 9,000 seat facility at the Dillon Stadium location. Under the terms of the agreement, PSMG was entitled to receive $775,000 for serving as the project manager for the $12 million plan. In February 2015, Anderson joined with DUCKETT who agreed to be the majority owner of the professional soccer team. DUCKETT and Anderson represented to various city officials that PSMG and DUCKETT’s Black Diamond Consulting Group had merged for purposes of completing the Dillon Stadium project and securing the professional soccer team. DUCKETT represented that he was a former professional football player in the NFL and that Black Diamond was involved in a casino project and sports-related projects in Las Vegas and Atlanta.
Beginning in approximately March 2015, Anderson submitted invoices to the city for reimbursement to PSMG subcontractors working on the project. However, rather than pay the total amounts owed to PSMG’s subcontractors, DUCKETT and Anderson directed more than $1 million that PSMG received from the city to themselves, PSMG, Black Diamond, and other entities not related to the Dillon Stadium project. DUCKETT and Anderson also secured invoices from subcontractors who had not performed work for the project, which DUCKETT and Anderson caused to be submitted to the city as if the work had been performed. DUCKETT and Anderson then illegally used the proceeds of the fraud in a series of bank transactions to pay individuals and companies for expenses unrelated to the Dillon Stadium.
The investigation revealed that DUCKETT used funds that the city provided to PSMG to purchase a Range Rover that cost approximately $120,000, to pay unrelated attorneys’ fees and a $20,000 “finder’s fee” to an individual, and for other personal expenses including luxury clothing and jewelry items.
The jury found DUCKETT guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and eight counts of conducting illegal monetary transactions. The jury found DUCKETT not guilty of one count of conducting illegal monetary transactions.
Each of the conspiracy and wire fraud counts carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and each count of conducting illegal monetary transactions carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
A sentencing date is not scheduled.
DUCKETT was arrested on June 23, 2016. He is currently released on bond, on home detention with electronic monitoring.
On February 6, 2017, Anderson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and one count of conducting illegal monetary transactions. He awaits sentencing. Anderson has agreed to make restitution in the total amount of $1,134,595.37 to the City of Hartford and two subcontractors of the Dillon Stadium project.
This matter has been investigated by the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force, notably the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. The Task Force also includes members from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development- Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The Hartford Police Department has also assisted the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Karwan and Douglas Morabito.
Citizens are encouraged to report corruption to the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force by calling 203-238-0505.