City to receive more than $1.3 million in restitution after joint OIG and FBI investigation.
Philadelphia, April 29, 2014 – United States Attorney Zane Memeger and Philadelphia Inspector General Amy L. Kurland announced that the remaining two defendants pleaded guilty to their participation in a scheme to steal more than $1 million in printer ink cartridges from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) in federal court.
“This case shows our Administration’s unwavering commitment to the fight for honest government. The City of Philadelphia will continue to seek out wrong-doing within local government and by those who work with our Administration. Our message is clear – corruption and theft will not be tolerated,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “I’d like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney Memeger for their partnership on this case and Inspector General Kurland and her team for their diligent efforts on behalf of Philadelphia’s taxpayers.”
Derek Willis, 49, and Danita Willis, 35, of Russellville, Ark., pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud, obstruction of justice and perjury for knowingly making false statements to a federal grand jury.
The guilty pleas bring to a close a multi-year investigation that was initiated when a City employee reported patterns of suspicious purchases to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
“This investigation demonstrates how important the thousands of honest City employees are to our efforts to safeguard taxpayers’ trust. This case started because of a tip from an honest City employee who had the courage to do the right thing,” Inspector General Kurland said. “The OIG then teamed up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct a joint investigation. Philadelphia residents and taxpayers are served best in cases like this, when different agencies all work together in the fight against public corruption.”
The Willises owned Laser Cartridge Plus, Inc. (LCP), a business located in Russellville. They were contacted by Calvin Duncan who, at the time, worked as a mailroom clerk in the PWD. As part of his responsibilities, Duncan was responsible for mail deliveries and purchasing supplies, including printer ink and toner cartridges, for the PWD’s administrative offices.
Duncan submitted requests for approval to purchase printer ink and toner cartridges, falsely claiming that the cartridges were for PWD employees. After receiving the cartridges from vendors – at the City’s expense – Duncan sold them to LCP at prices significantly lower than those usually charged by ink and toner cartridge vendors. The Willises knew that the cartridges were stolen.
The scam resulted in the City paying about $1,368,000 on purchase orders and shipping costs for ink and toner cartridges that were never used by the City. The Willises paid Duncan, who pleaded guilty in 2013, about $545,400, which was not due him.
The Willeses are scheduled to be sentenced on October 10, 2014.
The Willises each face an advisory sentencing guideline range of 33 to 41 months in prison and must pay restitution to the City of $1,368,000. Both will also face a period of supervised release.