FORMER WAYNE COUNTY EMPLOYEE SENTENCED TO 32 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING COUNTY OUT OF OVER $2.3 MILLION IN TAXPAYER FUNDS
DETROIT – A former Wayne County Roads Division employee was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison today for conspiring to defraud the county out of over $2.3 million, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington.
Kevin Gunn, 64, of West Bloomfield, pleaded guilty in January 2023. Gunn and fellow Wayne County employee John L. Gibson of Detroit 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.
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 solicited 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 led to the uncovering of 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 purchase 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 only the items 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 bought 596 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 underscores our relentless demand for the highest standards of integrity and honesty in our public servants. The hardworking citizens of Wayne County deserve a government free of public officials who elevate their greed over the best interests of the public.”
“Mr. Gunn could have served the citizens of Wayne County by being honest and forthright when performing his job. Instead, he chose to betray the public trust by stealing for his own personal gain. This case sends an important message that this conduct will never be accepted in Wayne County,” said Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
"The alleged misconduct by Mr. Gunn 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. 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.