29 past, present public officials and others charged in kick-back scheme

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Twenty-nine people are accused of being involved a kick-back scheme in our area.

U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe talks about the out come of a long-term investigation into corruption. (WJHG/WECP)

Friday morning, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Lawrence Keefe held a press conference to announce the outcome of a "major long-term investigation into widespread public corruption." He said these 29 people include past and present federal, state, and local public officials, as well as others, were indicted. Keefe also said this investigation is ongoing and more charges are still possible.

The allegations say this scheme cost taxpayers $373,000 from May to December 2017 and involves people from Bay, Holmes, and Washington Counties.

Investigators say these people stole money from a federal livestock assistance program meant to help livestock owners going through a drought, when many, if not all, of the conspirators did not own livestock.

The indictment, which is attached to this article, alleges Farm Service Agency Director Duane Crawson, 43, of Bonifay, led the conspiracy that included former Holmes County Clerk of Court Kyle Hudson and numerous other people who served the public. Crawson allegedly submitted fraudulent claims for livestock and farmland parcels that were not actually owned or leased by the conspirators' bank accounts.

Charges include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, theft of government funds, aggravated identity theft, income tax evasion, and obstruction of Internal Revenue laws.

Their trial is scheduled for January 6, 2020, at 8 a.m. at the United States Courthouse in Pensacola.

The 29 people include:
Duane Crawson, Farm Service Agency Director, Bonifay
Jeremiah Rolling, Investigator with Office of State Public Defender, Westville
Jordan Hicks, Former Florida Department of Corrections Officer, Ponce de Leon
Kyle Hudson, Former Holmes County Clerk of Court, Westville
Davey Mancill, Mancill Masonry, LLC, Westville
James Stacey Paul, Public Works Bonifay, Bonifay
Danyel Witt, Clerk United States Postal Service, Bonifay
Sheryl Gillman, Secretary Florida Farm Bureau, Bonifay
Brian Ammons, Heavy Equipment Operator, Ponce de Leon
Christopher Ammons, Heavy Euipment Operator, Ponce de Leon
Taylor Stripling, Farm Laborer, Westville
James Mancill, Auto Parts Employee, Bonifay
Dawn Roof, Licensed Practical Nurse, Bonifay
Joseph Alexander, Poker Dealer, Chipley
Megan Roof, Hotel Clerk, Carryville
Jennifer McCabe, Holmes County Council on Aging, Bonifay
Ronald Roof, Specialist Army National Guard, Westville
Joseph Crowder, Brick Mason at Mancill Masonry, LLC, Caryville
Audrey Smith, Convenience Store Clerk, Caryville
Justina Williams, Unemployed, Caryville
Daniel Boston, Brick Mason with Mancill Masonry, LLC, Chipley
Billy Bradshaw, Auto Parts Employee, Bonifay
Justin Chopelas, Construction, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Dawn Crutchfield, Medical Assistant, Bonifay
Chassity Lee, Auto Parts Employee, Bonifay
Dwayne White, Former Bonifay Police Officer, Bonifay
Tillman Mears, Public Works Bonifay, Bonifay
Shyloe Sachse, Former Corrections Officer, Bonifay

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U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe talks about the out come of a long-term investigation into corruption. (WJHG/WECP)