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

U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe talks about the out come of a long-term investigation into corruption. (WJHG/WECP)
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -- Twenty-nine people are accused of being involved a kick-back scheme in our area.

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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