Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
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BP fraud case is nearing a resolution

Three men facing 20-year prison sentences after filing fraudulent Deepwater Horizon oil spill claims have all accepted plea agreements and will be sentenced later this year.

They are also facing five years of supervised release and up to $250,000 in fines, according to court documents.

A fourth co-defendant, meanwhile, has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial -- for now.

U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez ordered that defendant, Adrian Glen Barnes, 37, be hospitalized for no longer than four months in order to "attain the capacity to permit these proceedings to go forward," according to court documents.

Barnes is unable to "understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him," Martinez wrote.

The judge ordered Barnes and lawyers back to court on April 12 for a progress report.

The alleged ringleader Cleon Major, 41, was scheduled to be sentenced on March 25 as part of a plea agreement that was signed Nov. 29.

Co-defendant David Dwayne Bacon, 53, and Donald Ray Sargent, 36, both accepted plea agreements on Jan. 15, which also calls for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by up to five years of supervised release and fines up to $250,000, according to court documents.

Bacon and Sargent are both scheduled to be sentenced on July 15 before Martinez at the Sidney M. Aronovitz federal courthouse on Simonton Street in Key West.

Prosecutors allege Major spearheaded a scheme in which the four provided the BP-funded Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) with fake employment and income paperwork in order to support false claims of lost wages that never existed totalling $93,500 from Oct. 27, 2010, through Feb. 7, 2011, according to a 15-page indictment handed down in a Miami court on July 27.

Prosecutors allege the four men used the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and addresses of people they knew to file the false claims. The four were arrested in July following an FBI investigation.

Major had faced a maximum of 182 years in prison if convicted prior to the plea agreement.

Defendant in jail tax fraud case will appeal

• On Friday, defendant Sandra Perez notified the court that she will be appealing her Jan. 15 sentence of 10 months in prison stemming from a probation violation case.

Martinez ordered Perez to pay 50 percent of any wages she earns working in prison programs to pay off $33,010 she owes the government in the jail scam, according to Martinez's order.

Martinez also ordered Perez, who is pregnant, to spend two years on supervised release after prison, when she must pay 10 percent of her gross monthly earnings toward the debt, according to court documents.

She is to report for prison Feb. 14 at the federal courthouse on Simonton Street. Court records did not indicate if Perez's pregnancy was a factor in the timing.

Perez was previously sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to pay $33,010 restitution on the Jan. 25, 2011, charge of conspiracy to file false, fictitious and fraudulent claims in the IRS fraud case that was being run by members inside and outside the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.

Martinez ruled Monday that Perez violated her probation by getting arrested and not paying the court-ordered $25 a month restitution fee for four months.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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