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Press Release

Riverview Man Sentenced For Conspiracy To Commit Theft Of Government Property

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington today sentenced Chris J. McDonald, Sr. (53, Riverview) to one year and one day in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to commit theft of government property. As part of his sentence, the Court also ordered him to pay $117,952.35 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, and entered a separate money judgment against McDonald in the amount of $64,924.

McDonald was found guilty on December 14, 2017, following a four-day jury trial.

This case is related to the earlier federal prosecution of Jeanette Hevel, a former Tampa Police Department (TPD) corporal who stole 13 United States Treasury tax refund checks, money orders, and a refund anticipation loan from various locations inside TPD, including its secure evidence property room. Her unlawful conduct occurred over an approximately 9-month period, beginning in or around September 2011. In April 2015, Hevel pleaded guilty for her conduct pursuant to a plea agreement in which she agreed to cooperate in the government’s ongoing investigation of those responsible for cashing the stolen tax refund checks.

On December 9, 2015, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against McDonald and Joseph Lugo for their roles in the criminal conduct. According to court records, Hevel provided 9 of the 13 stolen tax refund checks to Lugo, who then delivered them to Robert Sanders and McDonald. McDonald deposited the checks into one of his bank accounts and then typically returned to the bank the next business day and withdrew the funds and shared them with the conspirators. None of the conspirators knew any of the payees listed on the tax refund checks, nor did they have permission from any of the payees to possess or deposit the checks.

Lugo pleaded guilty in June 2017. Sanders pleaded guilty in 2014 and testified for the government at trial.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Tampa Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jay G. Trezevant and Frank Murray.

Updated March 21, 2018

Financial Fraud