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Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis has sentenced Duane Allen Sikes (66, Jacksonville) to 10 years in federal prison for mail fraud, embezzlement of credit union funds, and filing a false federal income tax return. In addition, Sikes was ordered to pay restitution to VyStar Credit Union in the amount of $178,161, to CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc. in the amount of $5,284,800, and to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $1,009,175. The court also ordered Sikes to forfeit two pieces of real property, which are traceable to proceeds of the offenses, and entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $3,663,200, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.
Sikes had pleaded guilty on March 15, 2019.
According to court documents, over a 10-year period, Sikes, a mailroom employee of Vystar Credit Union, embezzled funds intended for Vystar’s postage costs. Sikes used the funds to purchase U.S. Postal Service stamps, which he sold to a third-party vendor. Sikes then used the proceeds from the stamp sales for his own benefit. According to evidence introduced at sentencing, this included grooming and enticing young boys to engage in sexual acts for money.
Upon discovery of the crime, Vystar Credit Union alerted the authorities and assisted with the investigation. The embezzlement did not impact account holders’ accounts but rather internal Vystar accounts.
Additionally, Sykes failed to report the funds he had embezzled on his federal income tax returns for the years 2007 through 2017, resulting in a total tax loss to the government of $1,009,175.
“IRS Special Agents tend to focus on crimes entirely motivated by greed,” stated Assistant Special in Charge Ronald A. Loecker of IRS Criminal Investigation. “That was the case when we teamed with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to investigate Mr. Sikes for embezzlement and tax fraud. Little did we know at the time that his fraudulent pursuits and ill-gotten gains supported a much more sinister plot. We hope that today’s sentence brings some sense of closure to the victims.”
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bonnie Glober and Kelly S. Karase.