Former State Representative’s Cash Stash Grows
More than $2.5 million in cash seized along with luxury watches and jewelry
BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office, working with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Internal Revenue Service, have recovered more than an additional $1 million in cash as well as jewelry and luxury watches as a result of seizures yesterday and in late December 2015. In total, more than $2.5 million in concealed cash and other valuables have been recovered from safe deposit boxes controlled by John George, a former Dartmouth Selectman and State Representative. George was convicted and sentenced in 2015 on federal charges related to his embezzlement from a taxpayer-subsidized bus company which he controlled.
Yesterday, special agents with the IRS seized over $800,000 in cash, as well as four Rolex watches and jewelry from three safe deposit boxes controlled by George. In several related seizures in December, U.S. Marshals discovered over $1.6 million in cash.
The money was recovered from seven safe deposit boxes filled with cash tied up in rolls of $100s, $50s, and other denominations. The safe deposit boxes were located at three banks in New Bedford and Fairhaven. Yesterday’s actions followed court authorization to recover the additional funds discovered while executing the original search and seizure warrants in December.
George, 68, was sentenced to 70 months in prison in July 2015 for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA).
George 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.
While USBC had the SRTA contract, George conspired to have 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, George deployed USBC workers to JG Farm to repair farm equipment and used USBC equipment and labor to provide personal out-of-state roadside assistance. George also inflated his final yearly salary from $75,000 to $275,000 in an attempt to fraudulently boost his SRTA pension.
From 2007 to 2011, George deposited only $5,000 in cash into his JG Farm business checking account despite the fact that JG Farm was the largest retail produce farm in Southeastern Massachusetts and did most of its business in cash.
Prior to his July 2015 sentencing, George was required to disclose his financial status to the Court. At that time, he stated that his liquid assets only consisted of about $160,000 in bank accounts and approximately $28,000 in cash.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation and John Gibbons, U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts, made the announcement today. The criminal forfeiture was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Doreen Rachal of Ortiz’s Asset Forfeiture Unit working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshal’s Asset Forfeiture Unit. The criminal case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dustin Chao and Ryan M. DiSantis of Ortiz’s Public Corruption Unit.