Couple ordered to pay full restitution, more than $1.3 million, to the City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, April 21, 2015 – United States Attorney Zane David Memeger and City of Philadelphia Chief Inspector Amy Kurland announced that Derek Willis, 50, and his wife, Danita Willis, 36, owners of Laser Cartridge Plus Inc. (LCP), were sentenced to prison time and were ordered to pay full restitution to the City for their participation in a scheme that defrauded the City of more than $1.3 million.
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 on April 29, 2014.
Beginning June 4, 2016, Danita Willis will serve 12 months and one day in prison, which will be followed by 36 months of supervised release. She is required to pay a $700 special assessment. After her release, Derek Willis will serve 36 months in prison, which will be followed by 36 months supervised release. He is required to pay a $900 special assessment. Both will pay full restitution of $1,368,091.19 to the City.
“This case highlights the City’s need for more effective oversight and the importance of the public’s participation in rooting out corruption, fraud and abuse. Like this one, most of our cases originate from tips and complaints from the general public,” said Inspector General Kurland. “This sentence serves as a powerful reminder that the OIG will not tolerate the theft of City dollars that are sorely needed for City services. We will do whatever we can to prevent similar wrongdoing in the future.”
The investigation began in September 2011 when a City employee reported patterns of suspicious purchases to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
The Willises owned Laser Cartridge Plus, Inc. (LCP), a business located in Russellville, Arkansas. They were contacted by Calvin Duncan who, at the time, worked as a mailroom clerk in the Philadelphia Water Department. 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 case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the City of Philadelphia Office of the Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tomika N. Stevens.