A North Texas couple have been sentenced to prison for their part in a conspiracy to defraud the city of Garland, Texas, of nearly $2 million by filing fraudulent damage claims against the municipality.
Kenneth Wayne Brown, 51, and his wife, Lea Michele Brown, 47, both of Westminster, Texas, were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater to 42 months and 34 months, respectively, in federal prison, according to U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña.
In addition, Judge Fitzwater ordered that Kenneth Brown pay $304,553, and Leah Brown $142,554, in restitution.
Five defendants have previously been convicted for their roles in the conspiracy. In early December 2011, Duane Milford Stailey, 44, and his wife, Sharon Ware Stailey, 46, both of Leonard, Texas, pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge and were each sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.
In early October 2011, Jerry Don Diviney, 69, of Durant, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty; he was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.
The former risk management adjustor for the City of Garland, Patricia Leathers, 63, of Rowlett, Texas, pleaded guilty in December 2010 and is presently serving a 53-month sentence. Her sister, Connie M. Powell, 60, of Garland, pleaded guilty to her role involving checks exceeding $64,000, resulting in a three-year term of probation.
According to trial testimony and case documents, Leathers obtained checks issued by the City of Garland by submitting false claims for reimbursement for damage to vehicles, homes, and landscaping purportedly caused by City trucks or employees.
Diviney provided Leathers with names and addresses to use for the false claims and deposited or cashed many of the checks. He then shared the proceeds with Leathers. The Browns and the Staileys negotiated checks payable to themselves and others and returned the bulk of the cash to Diviney and Leathers. The total loss to the City has been determined to be $1,968,479.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Garland Police Department and the Garland Offices of the City Attorney and Internal Auditor. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Miller and Brian McKay prosecuted.
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas