Citrus County Man Pleads Guilty To Receiving Stolen Benefit Payments From The Department Of Veterans Affairs
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven today sentenced Alejo Tronco-Diaz (52, Lakeland) to 12 months and one day in federal prison for conspiracy to commit federal program theft. As part of his sentence, Tronco-Diaz was also ordered to pay $295,891.65 in restitution. The court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $373,602.42, representing the total proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.
Tronco-Diaz pleaded guilty on May 14, 2018.
According to court documents, Tronco-Diaz’s wife, Tracy Dean 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. Tronco 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 U.S. Department of Transportation provided to the 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., 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. Instead, the funds and vehicles were kept and used 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 grant awards.
Tronco resigned from FDOT in lieu of termination on April 27, 2016. She was charged in the same indictment and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program theft on October 18, 2017.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Transportation - Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Scruggs.