Parking Meter Contractors Who Bilked City Out of $224k Get Sentenced

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The parking meter contractors who screwed the city were sentenced today
The parking meter contractors who screwed the city were sentenced today
Outsourcing a city's duties to private companies is great! Until they create "ghost employees" and screw you out of a quarter million.

Today two private contractors in charge of operating the city's parking meters from 2009 through 2011 were sentenced for wire fraud.

Both had pleaded guilty last autumn.

Here's how the U.S. Attorney describes what they did:

In 2009, our city's long-time Treasurer, Larry Williams, decided to outsource public parking meter operations to Dankar Enterprises, a management and consulting services firm based here in St. Louis. It's owned by Dannielle Benson.

She billed the treasurer for the work, but included the services of two employees that weren't actually working. This allowed her to inflate her bills by $5,000 to $8,000 each time, for a grand fraudulent total of $223,546.

But Benson and her company weren't actually doing the on-the-ground parking meter work.

She'd turned around and sub-contracted that stuff to a second firm, Duncan Solutions. Duncan performs parking meter work worldwide, but their operations manager here in St. Louis was a guy named Frank T. Habeebullah.

By August 2009, Habeebullah figured out that Benson was inflating her invoices to the city. So what does he do? He blackmails her and demands a cut. Benson complies. In order to conceal the hush money he's receiving, Habeebullah the sub-contractor sets up a "sham" business. That business received a total of approximately $59,000.

According to prosecutors, the treasurer himself directed Benson to give a cut of her inflated invoices to a certain "John Doe," whose "Doe Company One" earned $18,100 for "government relations interfacing and strategic planning."

John Doe has since been identified as former state rep Rodney Hubbard Jr (though he's not been charged).

Benson, a 41-year-old from St. Peter's, was sentenced today to 27 months. Habeebullah, a 32-year-old from St. Charles, got only six months. Together, they must pay back the stolen $223,546 to the city.

Larry Williams is still the treasurer.

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