Jacksonville Man Charged in $2.1 Million Fraud Scheme
JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Andrew A. Rooks (58, Jacksonville) with two separate conspiracies to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and ten counts of wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count. The indictment also notifies Rooks that the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of approximately $2.1 million, which represents the proceeds of the fraud.
Rooks was arrested and made his initial appearance in federal court today. He was released on bond and an arraignment has been scheduled for Monday, April 27, 2015.
According to the indictment, from 2001 until July 2011, Rooks worked for Sea Star Line, LLC, in its Jacksonville office. Sea Star transports goods by vessel in interstate and foreign commerce and has operations at the Port of Jacksonville. Rooks last served as the assistant vice president of operations. The indictment alleges that, beginning no later than November 2005, Rooks authorized the payment of phony invoices submitted on behalf of co-conspirator Keith Beavers. The invoices were for container and equipment decals that were never provided to Sea Star. The indictment further alleges that, beginning around the same time, Rooks carried on a second conspiracy. He allegedly authorized the payment of phony invoices to two companies controlled by Russell Cody. The invoices were for inspection and transportation services of Sea Star’s containers and equipment. They were false because those services were never provided by Tiburon Transportation Services or Lancer Logistics, which were the front companies controlled by Cody. Instead, the indictment alleges that Beavers and Cody made kickback payments to Rooks, and to a company controlled by Rooks. The payments were approximately 40 to 60 percent of the amount paid by Sea Star on the phony invoices.
The indictment also alleges that after Rooks was terminated by Sea Star, he got a job with another Jacksonville company, Trailer Bridge, Inc., and continued the conspiracies. Trailer Bridge paid $107,000 as a result of phony invoices.
In separate cases, Beavers and Cody previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracies, and are currently awaiting sentencing. The sentencing hearings are scheduled in July 2015.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of one or more federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Jacksonville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dale Campion.