Jury Convicts Woman of Defrauding Federal Program Intended to Improve Air Quality
HOUSTON – A 45-year-old woman has been convicted of charges related to defrauding the Federal Highway Administration Congestion mitigation Air Quality and Surface Transportation Program (FHWA-CMAQ), announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick along with Special Agent in Charge Joseph Zschiesche of the Department of Transportation - Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG). The jury deliberated for less than two hours following a two-day day trial before convicting Shonda Renee Stubblefield of all the counts in the indictment - theft of public money, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
The jury found that Stubblefield, the owner of World Corporation Inc. (WCI)., stole $125,659.90 from the Department of Transportation (DOT) CMAQ program funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The CMAQ Program provides money to reduce traffic congestion and thereby reduce air pollution in certain areas. The jury heard that Stubblefield stole the money by falsely and fraudulently representing to Houston Galveston Area Counsel (HGAC) that she had hundreds of employees working at WCI who participated in a telework program designed to reduce air-pollution.
The United States proved through documents and 25 witnesses that Stubblefield created a fake business list, fake bank records, fake income and earnings statements and other false WCI business records including employee timesheets, invoices and match documents. The testimony included that of an individual whose identification information Stubblefield stole and used to create a fake $18,100 check that was submitted to the government to further the theft. The evidence and testimony revealed Stubblefield created at least 500 fake and fictitious WCI employee profiles that included fake names, addresses and email accounts.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that Stubblefield was not the person who engaged in the criminal activity, despite the fact that her name was on virtually all WCI business records, at least four witnesses identified her and the money trail lead directly to Stubblefield’s bank account.
“These cases illustrate how agency works tirelessly against individuals who defraud hardworking taxpayers and steal money intended to reduce traffic congestion and improve the air quality in Texas,” said Zschiesche.
U.S. District Judge Alfred Bennett presided over the trial and will sentencing at a later date. At the time of her sentencing, Stubblefield faces up to 10 years in prison for theft of public money, 20 years for mail fraud and wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering as well as a mandatory two years for the identity theft which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. All counts also carry as possible punishment a $250,000 maximum fine. Previously released on bond, Stubbefield was taken into custody following the guilty verdict where she will remain pending that hearing.
The DOT-OIG conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Redlinger and Michael Day prosecuted the case.