The U.S. Department of Justice has unsealed a 37-count indictment against Calvin Gary Walker, of Walker's Electric Company, alleging money laundering, fraud, interstate transfer of funds involving fraud and fraud involving an organization that receives federal funding.
According to the 37-count indictment which was unsealed on Monday, May 16, 2011, "a federal investigation revealed a pattern of deliberate over-billing of electrical projects by Walker, the owner of Walker's Electric Company, the outside electrical contractor for the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD). The indictment alleges that from 2008 to 2010, on at least thirteen different electrical projects, the defendant submitted sixteen invoices containing inflated amounts of the costs of materials used in the projects totaling over $3 million. On the temporary campuses of Regina Howell and South Park the indictment alleges the defendant misrepresented the material costs and 10% mark-up by over $1.5 million, in addition to invoices of over $546,000 for bucket trucks billed as equipment rentals. The indictment also alleges Walker billed BISD for bucket truck rentals of over $600,000 when his company already owned the trucks and did not incur rental costs."
Specifically, Walker faces 18 counts of fraud in connection with organizations which receive federal funds, six counts of wire fraud, five counts of interstate transfer of funds by fraud, five counts of money laundering involving transactions greater than $10,000 and three counts of mail fraud. The mail fraud and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of up to 20-years in prison and the other charges each carry a maximum of up to 10-years in prison.
When asked for a reaction to the news of the indictment Walker told The Examiner in a brief telephone call, "I am not familiar with all that, you need to talk with Dick DeGuerin. You print what you need to print. I don't have anything else to say."
DeGuerin, "I haven't seen the entire indictment but we were under the belief that we would have the opportunity to present the result of our audit before an indictment. We have been denied that right and I am not very happy about it. We do not believe there was any fraud or overcharging or anything done illegally by Calvin Walker or Walker's Electric Company and we are extremely disappointed that we didn't have the opportunity to present our evidence to the grand jury.
When asked if Walker might try to work out a deal with the Department of Justice rather than take the case to trial, DeGuerin said, "We do not believe that Calvin Walker is guilty of these charges and we believe a fair jury will find that is true. Calvin Walker will tell the truth and our evidence, which is financial in nature will show he has done an excellent job for BISD and all his records are all aboveboard and his work is excellent. That is our defense."
In addition to the indictment, federal authorities gave Walker notice of their intent to proceed with forfeiture action against a parcel of land on Pleasure Island, a Mercedes and two annuities valued at $3.4 million, which they claim were purchased illegally with "illicit profits."
Walker's Electric Company held the competitive bid contract to supply electrical services to BISD. The contract bound Walker to invoice the school district for materials at cost plus a 10% mark-up. Equipment rentals were also to be provided at cost plus 10%. In addition to the false material costs and bucket truck rentals the indictment alleges the defendant also benefitted by the larger mark-up on the inflated material costs and rentals.
Davilyn Walston, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, said, "this is an ongoing investigation and we will not be answering further questions at this time."
BISD spokesperson Craig Eichhorn, "The district was recently in contact with our legal counsel and she is reviewing the list of indictments to see how it affects the school district."