The recent indictment of two Florida businessmen on conspiracy charges has brought the spotlight back to a political scandal from the Jeb Bush Administration that rocked the Florida Department of Corrections
As former FDOC Secretary James Vernon Crosby Jr. continues to serve an eight-year prison sentence for accepting kickbacks from prison vendors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced last week the indictment of two suspected vendors who operated lucrative prison canteens.
Edward Lee Dugger, 63, of Gainesville, and Joseph Arthur Deese, 37, of Fort White, turned themselves in Friday on charges of conspiracy to pay kickbacks to Crosby and former FDOC regional manager Allen Wayne Clark between 2004 to 2006, according to a press release from the U.S Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida.
In the indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says kickbacks from Dugger and Desse to the prison officials increased from $1,000 to $12,000 per month, totalling $130,000. The businessmen also provided Crosby and Clark with gifts, including suites stocked with food and alcohol, according to the indictment.
The arrests come three years after Crosby went to prison for accepting kickbacks following his removal by Bush amid federal and state investigations. Bush appointed Crosby in 2003. The scandal still reverberates in Florida politics, as evidenced by comments made by Gov. Charlie Crist recently when answering questions about any relationship he had with indicted former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer.
“Jeb’s feet weren’t really held to the fire when that guy at Corrections got popped,” the St. Petersburg Times reported Crist saying, referring to Crosby.
Many believed Crist was taking a shot at Bush, who has publicly backed Crist’s opponent for U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio.