Former Alcee Hastings Aide Convicted on 30 Counts in Fraud Case
Mikel Jones, a former aide to Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, was convicted for his role in a scheme to defraud a New York venture capital fund that financed the operation of his Philadelphia law firm.
Jones, a 55-year-old Boynton Beach resident, was convicted of conspiracy, money laundering, 14 counts of wire fraud, and 14 counts of mail fraud. His wife, Dona Nichols Jones, was convicted of conspiracy, money laundering, and 14 counts of wire fraud.
In a brief statement from Hastings' office, the congressman says, "Today, I learned that Mikel Jones was found guilty of certain charges against him in the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He is no longer employed by my Congressional office."
According to the FBI, Jones was acquitted of several counts of mail and wire fraud involving thefts from the City of Philadelphia, and his wife was not charged in those allegations.
The FBI says Jones obtained a multimillion-dollar line of credit from a New York lender in February 2006 with the agreement that he'd use the money only for "legitimate expenses" related to operating his law firm.
Jones and his wife then began stealing the money under the name of another company they controlled, Strata-Tech, by making fake invoices with that name, as well as the name of Comcast-Spectator -- the company that owns the Philadelphia Flyers and used to own the Philadelphia 76ers -- which never provided any goods or services to the Joneses' law firm, the FBI says.
According to the feds, they'd use the money to pay off credit-card debt and buy 76ers tickets from Comcast-Spectator and also laundered around $160,000 of that fraudulently obtained money into the Florida bank accounts of Dona Nichols Jones and her daughter.
Between 2008 and 2009, feds say the Joneses obtained more than $350,000 through the fake-invoice scheme.
U.S. District Court Judge Berle M. Schiller scheduled sentencing for February 7, 2012.
Of course, this is nowhere near the first time there's been drama around Hastings, including that whole bribery scandal while he was a federal judge for the Southern District of Florida.
In June, the Wall Street Journal discovered that Hastings was also being investigated by a congressional ethics panel for sexual harassment allegations.
Hastings, 75, represents what's likely the most-Democratic congressional district in the state, and the closest anyone's come to him in the past decade was a 48.5-point victory in the 2004 primary.
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