Two sentenced for military fraud


Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 21, 2008 at 10:53 p.m.

Two North Florida brothers accused of conspiring to defraud the U.S. military by shipping phony electronic parts were sentenced to 18 months in prison in a federal court last month, according to court records.

Edward Lee Simmons, 31, of Hawthorne, and Joshua David Simmons, 30, of St. Augustine, had entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the case in August.

Federal prosecutors alleged the men, in exchange for more than $1 million, contracted with the military to ship electronic parts that would be used in military equipment. Instead of sending parts specified in the contract, however, the men supplied phony parts, shipped with false labels, according to court records.

In addition to the prison sentence, both men must serve three years of supervised probation following their release from prison and pay $1.6 million in restitution, a judge's order filed in December stated. The two brothers had been ordered to surrender to U.S. Marshals Service Jan. 4 to begin serving their sentences, court records stated.

Federal prosecutors had accused the brothers of setting up eight companies they used to make bids on contracts with the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio, an office with the U.S. Department of Defense. The center manages electronic spare parts and supplies them to its military customers and solicits offers from different vendors.

The parts the men had agreed to send were considered "critical application items," meaning if they failed they could have resulted in a loss of life.

More than $1.5 million was paid to the brothers' companies from early 2001 through March 2004, court records reported. The companies had been awarded more than $2.7 million in contracts.

Lise Fisher can be reached at 352-374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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