Owner of Local Company That Manages the Operations of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office Parking Maintenance and Revenue Collections Division Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 20, 2012|
ST. LOUIS, MO—Dannielle Benson, owner of Dankar Enterprises, pled guilty to defrauding Duncan Solutions and the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office from June 2009 through December 31, 2011.
According to court documents, Dannielle Welch Benson owns the St. Louis company Dankar Enterprise Inc. (Dankar), a management and consulting services company. Duncan Solutions (Duncan) is a worldwide company engaged in providing on-street parking meter equipment, maintenance, revenue collections, and other related products and services. During 2009, the Treasurer’s Office for the city of St. Louis outsourced its on-street parking meter maintenance and revenue collections operations through a primary contract with Duncan. Duncan, in turn, sub-contracted with Benson, through Dankar, for the day-to-day on-street parking meter maintenance and revenue collections in the City of St. Louis.
Between June 2009 and December 2011, Benson and Dankar submitted monthly invoices which were false and inflated by approximately $5,000 to $8,000, for a total of approximately $223,546. The false and inflated invoices were submitted to Duncan claiming that two individuals were employed and performed work for Dankar as either a Collector or a Technician on the city of St. Louis contract. Neither of the two individuals performed the work claimed on the false invoices.
During July or August 2009, another individual became aware of Benson’s fraudulent activity and advised her that he was aware of her conduct and requested that she begin paying him a portion of her revenues from the inflated monthly invoices. In order to conceal the inflated invoice scheme, on September 1, 2009, Benson and the other individual entered into a sham consulting agreement whereby a company set up by the other individual contracted with Dankar to provide consulting services for a monthly fee. From October 2009 through December 31, 2011, Benson made monthly payments to the other individual and his sham company, beginning with $2,000 each month and increasing to $3,000 each month for a total of approximately $59,000.
In addition to paying the other individual and his sham company from the additional revenue obtained through the inflated invoices, Benson, at the direction of the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office, made monthly payments to an individual referred to in the charging document as John Doe. On September 1, 2009, Benson, through Dankar, entered into a sham consulting agreement with John Doe, through one of his companies (Doe Company One), for government relations interfacing and strategic planning. From October 2009 through September 2010, Benson and Dankar made $1,500 monthly payments to John Doe and Doe Company One for a total of approximately $18,100, these funds coming from the additional revenues obtained by her inflated monthly invoices on the Duncan St. Louis contract.
In early January 2010, Benson, through Dankar, entered into a sham consulting agreement with the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office for legislative monitoring, reporting and advocacy, for the sum of $1,333 per month. Simultaneously, on the same day, she also entered into a second sham consulting agreement with John Doe through another one of his companies (Doe Company Two) for $1,200 a month. From April 2010 through December 31, 2011, Benson and Dankar made monthly payments to John Doe and Doe Company Two for a total of approximately $38,400, these funds coming from the additional revenues obtained by her inflated monthly invoices on the Duncan St. Louis contract and from a total of $16,000 received by Dankar from the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office on its January 4, 2010 sham consulting agreement. Dankar provided no consulting services to the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office. There were no services provided by Dankar or either of John Doe’s companies on any of the sham contracts.
Dannielle Welch Benson, St. Peters, Missouri, pled guilty to one felony count of wire fraud before United States District Judge Rodney W. Sippel. Sentencing has been set for November 16, 2012.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office