More individuals with ties to prison canteen provider Keefe Group face time in federal prison. On Wednesday, Joseph A. Deese, 35, a former Tallahassee businessman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay kickbacks. Deese is one of four men who have been arrested in connection with bribery scheme involving Keefe and Florida prisons.
Edward L. Duggar, 64, former partner of Deese, pleaded guilty to similar charges in March. Both men face several years in prison.
According to prosecutors, Duggar and Deese were caught up a scheme to pay prison officials Allen W. Clark and James V. Crosby, the latter was appointed prison commissioner by former Gov. Jeb Bush.
Crosby and Duggar became acquainted shortly after his appointment. The men, who became fast friends, devised a illegal money-making scheme. Duggar, also an Allstate Insurance Company owner, was given access to sell insurance policies through the prison’s Police Benevolence Association. This group handles insurance matters for prison guards and other employees at the prison.
Deese and Duggar were then introduced to Keefe Group President Jack Donnelly, who signed off on a phony prison contract, which allowed them to operate prison canteens. As part of the agreement, the men were to pay Crosby and Clark $1,400 to $10,000 per month. Donnelly received a flat payout of $250,000. To this day, Donnelly has never been charged in association with this probe.
The illegal activities were unearthed after the FBI received a tip. The FBI launched and investigation complete with wiretaps. Several conversations were captured between the men regarding payments. All four men were arrested and charged with multiple counts of paying and accepting bribes.
Both Crosby and Clark have already served federal prison time. Deese and Duggar will be sentenced in June.
Keefe Group is still under investigation in other states for similar charges. To date, no individual employed by the company has faced charges.