Former Omaha Councilman and Former Omaha Police Officer Sentenced for Fraud Conspiracy
Acting United States Attorney Susan Lehr announced that Vincent J. Palermo, 50, of Omaha, Nebraska, and Richard Gonzalez, 55, of Papillion, Nebraska, were sentenced on January 16, 2024, in federal court in Lincoln, Nebraska, for conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Senior United States District Judge John M. Gerrard sentenced Palermo to 18 months’ imprisonment and Gonzalez to 18 months’ imprisonment. Additionally, Palermo was sentenced to a consecutive 9-month term of imprisonment for a violation of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. After Palermo’s release from prison, he will begin a 2-year term of supervised release. After Gonzalez’s release from prison, he will begin a 3-year term of supervised release. Senior Judge Gerrard ordered Palermo to pay $10,292.28 in restitution and Gonzalez $66,749.35 in restitution.
From January 2018 to April 1, 2023, Palermo, while an Omaha City Councilman, received personal and financial benefits to include airfare, luxury hotel accommodations, travel arrangements, and other items of value in exchange for official actions. These benefits were intended to influence Vincet Palermo’s actions as an Omaha City Councilman to benefit the Police Athletics for Community Engagement (PACE) and the Latino Peace Officers Association (LPOA). During this time, co-defendant Gonzalez was the Executive Director of PACE and a member of LPOA. Palermo failed to disclose to the City Counsel the private benefits that he was receiving while taking official acts for the benefit of LPOA and PACE.
From 2017 to April 1, 2023, Gonzalez conspired to defraud donors of the LPOA, the LPOA Board, and PACE for his own personal benefit. Gonzalez, a retired Omaha Police Department Captain, without having full LPOA Board authority, conducted financial transactions for his personal benefit using LPOA funds. LPOA funds were misused by Gonzalez for trips, meals, and gambling. Gonzalez also misused LPOA funds to purchase trips for friends and co-defendant Palermo, which included a trip to Las Vegas.
After Tuesday’s sentencings, FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said, “Both former city councilman Vinny Palermo and former police officer Richard Gonzalez were entrusted to represent our communities' interest, but instead chose to betray that trust through their abuse of public office for personal gain. The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate, pursue, and hold accountable those who violate their oath of office to enrich themselves. Public corruption is a top criminal investigative priority for the FBI, and we encourage everyone in our community to continue to come forward and report abuses of public office.”
Co-defendant Johnny Palermo’s change of plea hearing is scheduled for January 18, 2024, in Lincoln. Co-defendant Jack Olson’s trial is scheduled for April 10, 2024, before Senior Judge Gerrard in Lincoln. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.