DETROIT – Former Wayne County Roads Division employee John Gibson was sentenced to 1½ years in prison today for conspiring to defraud the county out of over $2.3 million, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced.
Ison and Worthy were joined in the announcement by Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington.
Gibson, 55, of Detroit, pleaded guilty in July 2023. He and fellow Wayne County employee Kevin Gunn engaged in a scheme to use taxpayer dollars to make unauthorized purchases of generators and other power equipment from retailers in southeast Michigan which they sold for hundreds of thousands in personal profit. Gunn also pleaded guilty as part of the scheme and was sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison on November 8, 2023.
According to court documents, in March of 2021, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation into the potential misuse of taxpayer dollars. The Sheriff’s Department requested the assistance of the FBI to investigate the criminal actions of Gunn, Gibson, other employees of the Wayne County Roads Division, and vendors to Wayne County. At the beginning of the investigation, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office secured a search warrant which broke open the case and exposed the embezzlement scheme. Investigators with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office have played an ongoing and important role in the investigation.
As part of the scheme to defraud, between January 2019 and August 2021, Gunn solicited Wayne County vendors to provide generators and other power equipment the vendors were not authorized to provide under their contracts with the county. To conceal the scheme to defraud, Gunn instructed the vendors to list on their invoices different items which they were authorized to sell as part of their Wayne County contracts. Roads Division employees approved and paid each vendor’s invoice with taxpayer funds. After these fraudulent purchases were verified and approved by Roads Division employees, Gibson took possession of the equipment, paid Gunn for the items, and resold the generators and other items to members of the public.
A review of invoices from Wayne County vendors revealed that between January 16, 2019, and August 3, 2021, Wayne County vendors sold to Wayne County 596 unauthorized generators, and a variety of other power equipment including lawnmowers, chainsaws, and backpack blowers. The purchase of these items was not authorized under any vendor contract with Wayne County nor were the items ever provided to or used by Wayne County. The total value of equipment obtained as part of the scheme was over $2.3 million.
United States Attorney Dawn Ison said, “Today’s sentence represents our commitment to ensuring that the citizens of the Eastern District of Michigan are served by public officials who elevate the needs of the public over their own self-interest.”
“This sentence should serve as a deterrent to prevent any future employees from stealing from Wayne County. If you do, there will be life changing criminal consequences,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Worthy.
"The alleged misconduct by Mr. Gibson was a betrayal of his fellow government employees and is not representative of the honest and hard work they perform on a daily basis," stated Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. "The defendant was entrusted with taxpayer money, which was intended to be used for a specific purpose, not his personal profit. I would like to commend Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the Wayne County investigators for their assistance during this case. The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to take strong action against individuals who seek to corrupt the integrity and fair administration of government programs."
“The alleged actions of these individuals are nothing short of disgraceful,” said Sheriff Raphael Washington. “To brazenly steal from hardworking taxpayers and fraudulently line their own pockets while holding positions of public trust make these crimes all the more deplorable. Today’s sentencing is another example of our strong commitment to working together.”
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Detroit Area Corruption Task Force. In addition, Wayne County Executive Evans and his administration have been assisting and cooperating with the investigation since they first learned of fraudulent activity within their organization. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eaton P. Brown.