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2 accused of embezzling .7M in road funds to purchase, resell generators

2 accused of embezzling $1.7M in road funds to purchase, resell generators

DETROIT – Two long-time Wayne County employees are charged in an embezzlement scheme that involved using federal funds to purchase generators and other power equipment that they then sold for personal profit, according to officials.

Kevin Gunn, 64, of West Bloomfield, and John L. Gibson, 54, of Detroit, are accused of embezzling $1.7 million in federal funds earmarked for Wayne County roads between January 2019 and August 2021, according to a news release from the U.S. Justice Department.

In the scheme, Gunn allegedly solicited county vendors to purchase generators and other power equipment and falsify invoices so the purchases would be approved by the county, according to the criminal complaint. Gunn and Gibson then allegedly took the equipment into their possession and sold it online for personal profit.

Gunn manages the Bridge Unit of the Wayne County Roads Division and has been employed by Wayne County for 34 years. Gibson is a foreman within the Bridge Unit and has been employed by the county for 20 years.

Wayne County receives over $20 million in federal funds annually to pay for road repairs, construction and maintenance, according the release.

The Wayne County sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices and the FBI Detroit Field Office worked together to investigate this case, which included Gunn, Gibson, other employees of the Wayne County Roads Division, and vendors to the county, the release said. The prosecutor’s office secured a search warrant early on that broke open the case and uncovered the embezzlement scheme.

A review of invoices revealed that between Jan. 16, 2019, and Aug. 3, 2021, Wayne County vendors purchased 596 generators, lawnmowers, chainsaws, backpack blowers and other power equipment at Gunn’s request, according to the criminal complaint. The purchase of these items was not authorized under any county vendor contract and the items were not provided to or used by the county. The total value of equipment purchased as part of the scheme was about $1.7 million in taxpayer funds.

“The alleged actions of these individuals are nothing short of disgraceful,” Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington, said in a statement. “To brazenly steal from hardworking taxpayers and fraudulently line their own pockets while holding positions of public trust make these crimes all the more deplorable.”

Gunn and Gibson were arrested today, May 3. They are each charged with conspiring to commit and committing federal program theft, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000; wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000; and money laundering, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

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https://www.mlive.com/news/2022/05/2-accused-of-embezzling-17m-in-road-funds-to-purchase-resell-generators.html