Former Dixie County Attorney Convicted of Fraud, Money Laundering
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 13, 2009|
GAINESVILLE, FL—Thomas F. Kirwin, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida announced today the conviction of Joseph Lander, formerly the county attorney for Dixie County, of five counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of money laundering, in connection with his involvement in an investment fraud scheme and a separate scheme to defraud the citizens of Dixie County.
Evidence introduced at trial established that between the fall of 2005 and July 2009, Lander executed a scheme to defraud and to deprive the citizens of Dixie County and others of the intangible right to his honest services. Specifically, while acting as County Attorney, Lander fraudulently demanded and received payment of an $820,000 performance bond from developers having business before Dixie County. At the time Lander demanded payment of the performance bond, he knew that no bond was required and had no authority to personally accept payment of the bond, which was deposited into Lander’s law firm account. Lander then spent more than $300,000 of the money on luxury items and other personal expenses.
In addition, evidence at trial established that Lander also defrauded private investors of more than $400,000 that he fraudulently induced them to invest in a retail vitamin and health supplement venture.
Following forfeiture proceedings conducted at the conclusion of the case, the jury also issued a special verdict forfeiting Lander’s ownership interest in the Dixie County Advocate newspaper in Cross City, Florida.
Lander faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each of the mail fraud convictions, and a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment on each of the money laundering convictions. Sentencing is scheduled for January 4, 2010.
Mr. Kirwin commended the dedication of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, whose investigation led to the convictions in this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory McMahon and Brett Meltzer.