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Camden man pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charge

Posted: September 20, 2018 4:57 p.m.
Updated: September 21, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Thomas Brock, 51, of Camden, pleaded guilty Aug. 28 to one of 18 counts filed against him by the U.S. government related to allegations he and several co-conspirators committed fraud to obtain nearly $350 million worth of federal construction contracts.

Brock; his wife, Tory; Jerry Eddins of Aspermont, Texas; Harry Michael White, of Columbia; Cory J. Adams, of Columbia; Alfonza McCuthen Jr. of Irmo; and Thomas Brock’s former lover, Allison Amanda Sauls, of New York, N.Y.; were all indicted for their roles in the scheme in August 2016.

According to a superseding indictment filed in March 2017, the Brocks and their co-defendants took advantage of construction contracts administered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The contracts were to be given to minority-, woman-, veteran- and/or disabled person-owned construction companies. The indictment alleged that all the defendants hid the fact that the construction companies involved were not actually controlled by any of these types of owners.

The Brocks, Eddins, White, Adams and McCutchen were charged with conspiracy to defraud the government in violation of Title 18 Section 371 of the U.S. Code of Laws, the maximum penalty for which could have been $250,000 and five years imprisonment. Thomas Brock, Eddins, White and Sauls were also charged with wire fraud in violation of Title 18 Section 1343 of the U.S. Code, the maximum penalty for which is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Brock pleaded to one specific count of wire fraud: that on or about May 3, 2013, he conducted a wire transfer in the amount of $875,000 from a bank account in New York to another bank account in South Carolina “for the purpose … to defraud Star Funding and to obtain money and property from Star Funding by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”

Star Funding is a New York-based provider of purchase order funding and small business loans. Specifically, the government alleged that Brock and Sauls, while working for a company they had created with the other defendants, Boykin Contracting Inc. (BCI), also created Action Contractors LLC and that Sauls, using her BCI connection, “created a paper trail of fictitious jobs performed by Action on behalf of BCI. She and Brock then allegedly submitted false invoices to Star Funding, which purchased the fake account receivables. In total, Star Funding reportedly wired more than $2.67 million to a bank account controlled by Sauls who then split the money with Brock for their own personal use.

With Brock agreeing to plead guilty to the single May 3 wire transfer, the government agreed to drop all the other indictments against him, according to court documents. Those documents show the plea agreement was actually drawn up in January 2017, but Brock entered a not guilty plea three months later, in April 2017. A hearing was set to change his plea yet again to guilty in October 2017, but the hearing was cancelled. He finally pleaded guilty to the single count on Aug. 28.

A copy of the plea agreement confirms that Brock could face a fine of $250,000 and/or a 20-year prison term. It also has him agreeing to make full restitution with the actual amount determined by the court when he is sentenced, which is scheduled for December. He is free on bond until then.

According to court documents, while several of Brock’s co-conspirators, including his wife, received probation, a federal judge sentenced Eddins to two years in prison and Sauls to six years in prison.

In October 2017, the U.S. government filed a criminal forfeiture action against all the defendants in connection with two adjoining properties on Charlotte Thompson School Road. One is owned by Firefly Farms LLC, whose registered agent is Tory Brock; the other by members of the Brock family.

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