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Former Florida Correctional Privatization Commission Official Pleads Guilty to Stealing State Funds

Former Florida Correctional Privatization Commission Official Pleads Guilty to Stealing State Funds

by David M. Reutter

The former Executive Director of Floridas now defunct Correctional Privatization Commission (CPC) has pled guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering involving almost $225,000 in state funds.
Alan Duffee headed the CPC from May 2002 until June 2004 when the Florida legislature voted to abolish the five-member panel and put the Department of Management Services in charge of administering state contracts with private prison companies.

According to the indictment, Duffee siphoned money from a major repair-and-maintenance fund that the state required prison management companies, including GEO Group and Corrections Corp. of America, to maintain for replacing or fixing equipment costing more than $5,000 that breaks down at the states five privately-operated prisons. The fund consisted of a percentage of monthly payments the Florida Department of Corrections made to the companies operating prisons in Bay and Gadsen Counties and at Lake City, South Bay and Moore Haven.

The indictment charged that Duffee did knowingly and willfully devise ... a scheme and artifice to defraud, and to obtain money and property, illegally from the prison maintenance fund. Duffee allegedly set up a bank account at Peoples First Bank of Tallahassee in the CPCs namewithout the knowledge of the five commissionersand made himself sole signatory on the account. He later directed the Wachovia Bank in Jacksonville to move $224,972.92 in checks and wire transfers from the repair-and-maintenance fund to the Peoples First account.

Duffee then began padding his own pockets. The indictment lists three wire transfers totaling $174,972.92 in 2003. Duffee also used the United Parcel Service to deliver checks totaling $50,000 to the account he had set up. Two other counts said Duffee withdrew cashiers checks from the Peoples First account for $27,597.93 on May 13, 2003 and for $73,117.51 on May 30 of that year.

The grand jury indictment authorized seizure of Duffees home in Northeast Tallahassee, which Leon County records show he purchased for $113,500 in 2003, a Ford Focus, and up to $224,972.92 in cashthe amount Duffee is accused of stealing.

Duffee pled not guilty in a Northern Florida U.S. District Court on September 8, 2005. He faced up to 20 years and fines of $250,000 on all counts. However, in February 2006 he entered into an agreement that involved pleading guilty to three of the six federal charges. On April 20, 2006, Duffee was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle to 33 months in prison, the maximum term that could be imposed under the sentencing guidelines.

According to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, Duffee had spent $22,805.48 on personal house and car expenses; $5,477.28 on furnishings; $11,789.63 for clothes and personal effects and $16,105.29 on recreation and other expenses. He was ordered to pay full restitution and will be placed on supervised release for three years following his release. This is the guy in charge of privatized prisons and hes stealing more money than Id expect 90 percent of the people in those privatized prisons stole. It boggles the imagination, stated prosecutor Tom Kirwin. Duffees attorney, Ben Phipps, who argued for probation, said he was especially concerned about putting a professional prison administrator in the prison system.

Duffees legal problems, however, didnt end with his prison sentence. Shortly after resigning as CPCs Executive Director in June 2004, Duffee bought a lobbying firm, The Windsor Group. Duffee served as president and CEO of Windsor, which has 18 clientsmainly social-service and rehabilitation organizations such as the Brain Injury Association, Christian Prison Ministries, and Human Service Associates.

The founder of Windsor is now suing Duffee for $750,000 yet to be paid in the deal. He has been unwilling or unable to pay according to the terms of our agreement, said Barney Bishop. There were supposed to be two large cash down payments. The first payment was 90 days late, and the second is now 120 days late. Bishop declined to cite figures but said the first installment of the down payment was a substantial six-figure amount, and the second was substantially more than that.

In March, 2006, Bishop said, Duffee paid him $6,150 with a check that bounced. He intends to file a complaint with Leon Countys bad check division.

Now, however, it appears that a bad check charge is the least of Duffees worries, as he is scheduled to report to federal prison on June 20, 2006.

Sources: Tallahassee Democrat; St. Petersburg Times

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