Husband and Wife Admit Roles in Million-Dollar Scam Involving City Ink and Toner Cartridges
PHILADELPHIA—Derek and Danita Willis, 49 and 35, respectively, of Russellville, Arkansas, pleaded guilty today to taking part in a scheme between January 2006 and January 2012 that defrauded the city of Philadelphia of more than $1 million. The couple pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud, obstruction of justice for the destruction of documents related to the fraud scheme, and perjury for knowingly making false statements to the grand jury on May 8, 2012. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 10, 2014.
The Willises owned Laser Cartridge Plus Inc. (LCP), a business located in Russellville. They were contacted by Calvin Duncan who, at the time, worked for the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) as a mailroom clerk. As part of his responsibilities, Duncan was responsible for mail deliveries and purchasing supplies, including printer ink and toner cartridges, for the administrative offices of PWD.
Duncan submitted requests for approval to purchase printer ink and toner cartridges, falsely claiming that the cartridges were for PWD employees. After receiving the printer ink and toner cartridges from the approved vendors at the city of Philadelphia’s expense, Duncan sold the printer ink and toner cartridges to Laser Cartridge Plus Inc. at prices significantly lower than those usually charged by ink and toner cartridge vendors. The Willises knew that the cartridges had been stolen. Derek Willis dealt directly with Duncan prior to 2005 when he tasked Danita Willis with arranging to buy the illegally obtained printer ink and toner cartridges from Duncan. Duncan mailed the illegally obtained printer ink and toner cartridges to LCP using United Parcel Service (UPS).
The scheme caused the city of Philadelphia to pay approximately $1,368,091.19 on purchase orders and shipping costs for printer ink and toner cartridges never intended to be used by PWD employees. Additionally, Derek and Danita Willis paid Duncan approximately $545,412.79, which was not due to him, for the printer ink and toner cartridges purchased with the city of Philadelphia funds and shipped to LCP using PWD’s UPS shipping account. Duncan pleaded guilty on August 9, 2013, and will be sentenced on July 18, 2014.
Derek Willis faces a maximum possible sentence of 120 years in prison, a maximum fine of $2.25 million, a $900 special assessment, and supervised release; Danita Willis faces a maximum possible sentence of 110 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1.75 million, a $700 special assessment, and supervised release.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the city of Philadelphia Office of the Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tomika N. Stevens.