Jacksonville Man Pleads Guilty in $2.1 Million Fraud Scheme
JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Andrew A. Rooks (58, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to two separate conspiracies to commit mail and wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count, plus a fine of twice the amount of the fraud loss. The plea agreement provides for restitution in the approximate amount of $2,187,000 to two victims, Sea Star Line, LLC and TrailerBridge, Inc. The agreement also provides for the entry of a personal money judgment against Rooks in the amount of approximately $2,187,000, which represents the proceeds of the fraud. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court documents, 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. 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 total payments Sea Star made to Beavers exceeded $1 million. During the same period, Rooks also carried on a second conspiracy. He authorized the payment of phony invoices to two companies controlled by co-conspirator Russell Cody. The invoices, totally more than $1 million, 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 front companies that Cody controlled. Instead, Beavers and Cody made kickback payments to Rooks, and to a company Rooks controlled.
After Rooks was terminated by Sea Star, he got a job with another Jacksonville company, TrailerBridge, Inc., and continued the scheme. TrailerBridge paid approximately $107,000 as a result of phony invoices.
Beavers and Cody previously pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracies and are scheduled for sentencing on February 1, 2016.
This case was investigated by the Jacksonville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dale Campion.