News


FDLE arrests nine for racketeering and fraud

 
For Immediate Release
December 5, 2019
             
FORT MYERS, Fla. – FDLE agents arrested nine suspects charged with defrauding the Lee County Port Authority out of more than $700,000 in a janitorial contracting scheme by submitting fraudulent invoices to the port authority.   Suspect Kim Ormiston remains at large today.
 
FDLE Fort Myers Special Agent in Charge Vaden “Shane” Pollard said, “I want to acknowledge the excellent work done by the Lee County Clerk of Court’s Inspector General’s Office and our special agents who investigated this case. Thanks to their efforts, along with support from the State Attorney’s Office, this fraud was identified and stopped. Those charged in this case will be held accountable.”  
State Attorney Amira Fox said, “The intricate maneuvering by the defendants arrested for these charges reveals a concerted effort to conceal alleged crimes against Lee County and the citizens of Southwest Florida. I am proud of the involvement of the State Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit for their work on this complex financial crimes case. The arrests announced today triggers the prosecution of these individuals. The unraveling of this multi-layered scheme has involved extensive interaction between the State Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement and government partners; all tasked with protecting our community and accounting for the taxpayer’s money.”       
        
Lee County Clerk of Court Linda Doggett said, “The Inspector General systematically audits county government to improve operations, find and put an end to any fraud waste and abuse and protect your tax dollars.  I am incredibly proud of the IG’s thorough and professional investigation in this matter. And I appreciate the partnership we have with the State Attorney and FDLE and the outstanding work that they do.”
 
The investigation began in April 2018 after an anonymous complaint was submitted to the Lee County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller Inspector General’s Office.  The allegations were forwarded to the Office of the State Attorney, Twentieth Judicial Circuit, and then referred to FDLE. 
 
Agents found Thomas Brennan, Triangle Services of Florida, Inc. site manager at Lee County Port Authority, falsified timesheets submitted to the port authority, charging them for hours never worked and even turning in timesheets for “ghost employees” (individuals who were never actually employed by Triangle Services).  Triangle Services provides janitorial services for the Lee County Port Authority.
 
In order to avoid suspicion, Brennan added the ghost employees to the overnight janitorial shift.  Timesheets were submitted by Triangle Services overnight shift supervisor Solomon Cokes and then approved and submitted to the port authority for payment.  Part-time Triangle Services’ employee Timothy Cook regularly submitted an additional timesheet using the name of a family member to earn extra cash. 
 
The ghost employees received payroll checks directly into their personal bank accounts and then funneled portions of the money back to Brennan. 
 
Prior to receiving the initial allegations, the Inspector General’s Office announced an audit of the Triangle Services contract in January 2018.  Following the announcement, Brennan ordered all on-site timecards destroyed in an attempt to conceal his crime.
 
Suspects arrested today are:
 
Thomas Brennan, 71, 6777 Winkler Road, Fort Myers, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy, organized fraud, official misconduct, grand theft and money laundering, booked into the Lee County Jail.
Solomon Cokes Jr., 82, 22181 Tallwood Court, Estero, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Lee County Jail.
 
Timothy Cook, 72, 2607 51st Street SW, Lehigh Acres, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Lee County Jail.
 
Jeffrey Ashby, 58, 921 SE 24th Street, Cape Coral, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Lee County Jail.
 
Debra Hill, 43, 2906 43rd Street West, Lehigh Acres, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Lee County Jail.
 
Kim Ormiston, 62, 14973 Rivers Edge Court, Fort Myers, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, remains at large.
 
Thomas Quinn., 82, 5346 Shalley Circle, Fort Myers, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Lee County Jail.
 
Harry Rodda Jr., 49, 5260-4 Cedarbend Drive, Fort Myers, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Lee County Jail.
 
Joseph Sucharzewski, 69, 44 Kingfisher Lane, Key West, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Monroe County Jail.
 
Dario Zuljani, 70, 2102 Ottersrest Lane, Cape Coral, FL, charged with RICO conspiracy and organized fraud, booked into Lee County Jail.
 
The Office of the State Attorney, Twentieth Judicial Circuit will prosecute this case. 
 
For Further Information Contact:
Gretl Plessinger, Jessica Cary or Jeremy Burns
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001 ‚Äč