Florida Keys News
Sunday, May 19, 2013
False claims net 9 years
Man denies being boss of BP scheme

A Bahama Village man who filed fraudulent Deepwater Horizon oil spill claims was sentenced to more than nine years in prison Thursday in Miami as part of a plea agreement.

U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Cleon Major to 110 months in prison followed by three years' probation and ordered him, along with co-defendants, to pay $306,228 in restitution.

Prosecutors said Major spearheaded a scheme in which four men provided the BP-funded Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) with fake employment and income paperwork in order to support false claims of lost wages, according to a 15-page indictment handed down July 27 in a Miami court.

Major admitted to preparing false claims, but denied being the ringleader in an objection filed Wednesday before the court as well as in a six-page letter he wrote The Citizen from jail awaiting sentencing.

"My federal case is focusing on me, but in actuality my case involved an assortment of thugs and drug dealers and users in Key West," Major wrote to The Citizen. "I wasn't a ringleader, but more of a consultant and facilitator."

Major denied recruiting anyone into the scheme, and stated in court records that others came to him. He submitted the information "not to downplay his responsibility for his conduct in the case, but in order for his presentence report to be accurate factually," records state.

Meanwhile, Martinez ruled on April 16 to allow BP co-defendant Adrian Glen Barnes, 37, to remain hospitalized so doctors can complete his mental evaluation. Barnes has already been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, but Martinez is giving doctors until June 25 to finish their work, say court documents.

Major and two other co-defendants, David Dwayne Bacon, 53, and Donald Ray Sargent, 36, both accepted plea agreements that call for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by up to five years of supervised release, according to court documents.

Bacon and Sargent are both scheduled to be sentenced July 15 before Martinez at the Sidney M. Aronovitz federal courthouse, 301 Simonton St. in Key West.

Prosecutors said 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.

Before the plea agreement, Major had faced a maximum of 182 years in prison.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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