Son of Indicted Former City of Memphis Employee Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud and Conspiracy
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee
Memphis, TN –Karl "Shun" Blackmon, 46, has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the guilty plea today.
According to the Superseding Indictment and information presented in court, from April 2013 until November 2014, Karl "Shun" Blackmon defrauded the City of Memphis's ("City") Division of Housing and Community Development ("HCD") maintenance program. The purpose of that program is to maintain vacant City-owned lots and properties.
During that time, Karl Blackmon's father, Leon Blackmon, Sr., worked for the City and was in charge of that program. Karl Blackmon recruited at least 13 family, friends, associates, and employees to establish lawn care companies in order to participate in the HCD maintenance program. Karl Blackmon and Leon Blackmon Sr. instructed those recruits to apply for business licenses, obtain federal EIN numbers, open post office boxes and business bank accounts, and apply to become City vendors. Karl Blackmon distributed lists of properties to his recruits, and caused invoices to be submitted for those recruits to Leon Blackmon, Sr. under the City's HCD maintenance program.
At least half of the properties shown on the invoices were fraudulently billed; meaning the work shown was not done. The fraudulent invoices resulted in City checks being generated and mailed to Karl Blackmon's recruits via the U.S. Postal Service. Karl Blackmon met the recruited vendors in Memphis, where he was paid a portion of those recruits' City checks.
As a result of this fraud scheme, the City paid approximately $84,665 under the HCD maintenance program to lawn care companies that Karl Blackmon recruited. Charges against Leon Blackmon, Sr. and eight other alleged co-conspirators are still pending.
Sentencing for Karl Blackmon is scheduled for May 22, 2020, before U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman, where he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "This long-term fraudulent scheme had significant financial consequences to the public interests of the City of Memphis, and created unfair business advantages for vendors in the HCD Maintenance Program. This office is committed to the protection of the integrity of public services, and schemes to defraud programs or compromise public office will not be tolerated. This case demonstrates our commitment to protect taxpayer resources from such disturbing crimes of dishonesty, and to eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse in government programs."
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Damon Griffin and Murre Foster are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Updated February 10, 2020