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BOSTON – This week U.S. Marshals discovered and seized over one million dollars in small bundles of cash concealed in several safe deposit boxes controlled by John George, a former Dartmouth Selectman and State Representative. George was convicted and sentenced earlier this year on federal charges related to his embezzlement from a taxpayer-subsidized bus company which he controlled.
In July 2015, George, 68, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA). As part of his sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper ordered George to pay $688,772 in restitution and forfeit an additional $1.38 million to the United States. Pursuant to the money judgment and sentence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Marshals sought search and seizure warrants from the Court to obtain assets which they believed were being concealed by George. Over the last two days, U.S. Marshals gained access to George’s safe deposit boxes at banks in New Bedford and Fairhaven. They discovered over-sized safe deposit boxes filled to the brim with cash tied up in rolls of $100s, $50s, and other denominations.
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 and John Gibbons, U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts, made the announcement today. The criminal forfeiture was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Doreen Rachal of Ortiz’s Asset Forfeiture Unit and the U.S. Marshal’s Asset Forfeiture Unit in the District of Massachusetts.
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.