TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WMBB) — UPDATE: Three of the five individuals indicted in the Lynn Haven corruption scheme pleaded guilty to several charges in the case Tuesday.
Former City Manager Mike White, 46, Erosion Control Specialist Owner David White, 39, and ECS Employee Shannon Rodriguez, 37, now face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count. As part of their guilty plea, the three agreed with the government that they had conspired to steal more than $1 million from city coffers and federal taxpayers during the clean up after Hurricane Michael.
The group agreed that ECS billed for work that was never done, falsified records showing employees should get paid even when they weren’t working and took part in a sham bid for work at Sheffield Park.
In a text message, Mike White informed David White to submit bids for the Sheffield Park work and to include some other companies who would go in higher than his bid so the process looked legitimate.
As part of the plea deal, David White informed the court that he had done work for Mike White and other city officials and then billed the city for the work. White named Commissioner Dan Russell, Mayor Margo Anderson, and City Attorney Adam Albritton and Lynn Haven Leisure Services Director David Horton others as part of his statement.
Horton is already a co-defendant in the case. The others have not been charged with a crime.
After the hearing, prosecutors declined to say whether these individuals would face criminal charges in the case.
Also at issue was the purchase of Mike White’s farm by David White. The government contends that the purchase was illegal because the two were involved in an ongoing scheme. While both men eventually pleaded guilty on the matter, neither admitted that the deal was really part of the scheme. After the storm, Mike White wanted to sell the property and make $100,000 through insurance and the sale. David White said he needed a place to live and the $300,000 asking price seemed reasonable.
“I thought I got a good deal,” David White said.
Mike White’s attorney, Barry Beroset, said he explained what was wrong to his client.
“It looks like quid pro quo,” he said.
Mike White plead guilty to four counts in the case: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and two counts of honest services wire fraud. David White plead guilty to four counts in the case: filing a false claim, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tow counts of wire fraud. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to two counts: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
Most of the charges come with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release.
Two other defendants in the case are scheduled to go to trial in June. David Horton, Lynn Haven’s Community Services Director and Greenleaf Lawncare owner Josh Anderson are still facing multiple charges.
In a statement of facts placed in court records Tuesday Horton reportedly admits to lying to investigators about monitoring workers and certifying timesheets.
“Horton admitted that “he didn’t do a very good job” of monitoring ECS work at various Lynn Haven locations.
Court records also state that Horton had ECS provide debris removal and repairs at his home and received a $9,600 invoice which was falsely marked ‘paid in full.’ Horton then submitted this false statement to his insurance company, the records state.
David White and ECS then billed Lynn Haven for the work and “falsely disguised” it as work being done at various locations in the city.
“At the direction of co-defendant Horton and the defendant (David White), Lynn Haven paid ECS for the invoices,” the court records state.