Jasper Family Convicted in DETCOG Conspiracy
LUFKIN, Texas — A Jasper, Texas couple and their daughter have been found guilty of federal conspiracy violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.
Walter Diggles, 65, his wife, Rosie Diggles, 63, both of Jasper, and their daughter, Anita Diggles, 41, of Houston, have been found guilty of 28 counts including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, theft from programs receiving federal funds and engaging in monetary transactions from unlawful activity. The jury deliberated for 2 ½ hours before returning the guilty verdict late on Aug, 3, 2017, following a nine-day trial before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.
According to information presented in court, the defendants devised a scheme to obtain and make personal use of federal block grant funds that Congress appropriated following Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Ike, and Dolly. These funds were made available to the State of Texas, which in turn contracted with several councils of governments within the state to assist in administering and distributing the funds. Walter Diggles was the Executive Director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments during this time and used his position to approve inflated requests for reimbursement of federal block grant funds while Rosie Diggles and Anita Diggles prepared many of the requests. Additionally, Walter Diggles engaged in activities and approved requests for block grant funds that were fraudulent in nature and all the defendants spent the excess funds on personal expenses. The Diggles were indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 2, 2015.
“Our Constitution provides for trial by jury for those who contest criminal charges,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “The jury in this case heard, viewed and studied the evidence that was presented over nine days of trial, from both the defense and the government. At the ringing of the bell, the verdict was guilty for all and on all counts. Justice for all of the DETCOG’s 12 counties and for the taxpayers has been done.”
Under federal statutes, the Diggles each face up to 30 years in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Texas State Auditor’s Office. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tom Gibson and James Noble.