Dartmouth Selectman Convicted of Embezzlement
BOSTON – A Dartmouth Selectman was convicted today of embezzling funds from his bus company, which was subsidized with taxpayer funds, to bankroll his personal farm.
John George, 68, was indicted in August 2014, and today he was convicted by a jury of one count of conspiracy and one count of embezzlement. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15, 2015, before Judge Denise Casper.
The defendant owned Union Street Bus Company (USBC), a New Bedford-based company that operated public buses. During the same period, George operated John George Farms (JG Farm), a large produce farm based in Dartmouth. From approximately 1991 to 2011, USBC was awarded the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) contract to operate the SRTA public bus system that served a region that included New Bedford, Fall River, and several other neighboring towns.
The evidence at trial showed that, while USBC had the SRTA contract, George conspired with certain individuals to have various USBC employees work at JG Farm during their assigned USBC work hours. Such farm work included plowing, loading produce, and operating a produce stand at JG Farm, all during USBC business hours. As part of the conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, George deployed USBC workers to JG Farm to repair George’s farm equipment, used USBC equipment and labor to provide personal out-of-state roadside assistance, and inflated his final yearly salary from $75,000 to $275,000 in an attempt to fraudulently boost his SRTA pension.
The maximum penalty for the charge of embezzlement is a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 on the charge of embezzlement from an organization that received federal funds. On the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States, the maximum penalty is a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Todd A. Damiani, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Boston Field Office, made the announcement today. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dustin Chao and Assistant United States Attorney Ryan M. DiSantis of Ortiz’s Public Corruption Unit.