Former FDOT Employee And Her Husband Charged With Theft Of More Than $370,000 In Federal Grant Funds
Tampa, Florida – Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces the return of an indictment charging Tracy Dean Tronco (51, Lakeland) and Alejo Tronco-Diaz (50, Lakeland) with one count of conspiracy to commit federal program theft, one count of mail fraud, and two counts of federal program theft. If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison for the conspiracy count, up to 20 years’ imprisonment on the mail fraud count, and up to 10 years in federal prison for each of the program theft counts.
According to the indictment, Tronco worked as a Transit Coordinator and Passenger Operations Specialist at the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) District 7 office in Tampa from May 2010 through August 2015. She was responsible for administering transportation projects and funds that were intended to benefit Florida residents and taxpayers. As part of her work, she had a role in awarding federal grant funds that the United States Department of Transportation provided to FDOT. Tronco-Diaz, who married Tronco in 2012, was an FDOT grant applicant who operated an alleged church, Ministerio A Gran Voz De Trompeta Campus, Inc. (Ministerio), in Hillsborough and Polk Counties. Ministerio purported to provide transportation services for underserved populations such as elderly, disabled, and unemployed individuals.
Tronco used her position at FDOT to award more than $370,000 in federal funds to Ministerio and another religious ministry that claimed to be partnering with Ministerio to provide transportation services. The grant money was supposed to be used to purchase and renovate a commercial property in Hillsborough County, to provide job and transportation-related services, to purchase three new vehicles, and to reimburse the operation’s vehicle maintenance costs. However, the funds and vehicles were not used for the purposes stated in the grant paperwork, but, instead, were kept by Tronco, her husband, and other co-conspirators. Tronco also failed to disclose to FDOT her personal relationship with Tronco-Diaz, which constituted a conflict of interest that would have prevented her from handling the awards in question.
Tronco resigned from FDOT in lieu of termination on April 27, 2016.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Scruggs.