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Contractor manager found guilty of "ghost" employee scheme at Port Authority

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Posted at 12:53 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 12:58:57-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A 73-year-old Fort Myers man was sentenced to 8 years in prison after being found guilty of RICO conspiracy, money laundering and fraud charges.

Prosecutors said Thomas Brennan was part of a scheme to defraud the Lee County Port Authority, operators of the Southwest Florida International Airport, of more than $900,000.

Brennan pleaded straight to the court, bypassing a jury trial.

Investigators found criminal activity connected to Triangle Services of Florida, the agency contracted to clean the airport. Brennan was found to have put "ghost" employees on the company's payroll — real people that did not actually perform work.

The State Attorney's Office said Brennan would manually add the employees to the company's ledger system. The "ghost" employees were always added to the third shift (11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.) roster, with their salaries billed to LCPA.

Those employees, now defendants in the case, are accused of receiving those fraudulent paychecks in return for personal services or cash payments directly to Brennan. Some, the attorney's office said, were even able to get health insurance benefits.

Eight defendants involved have already been convicted and $223,800 in restitution has been collected.

In addition to prison time, Brennan will spend 10 years on probation.