Correctional facility cantina goods supplier Keefe Group is embroiled in yet another bribery scandal.
On Wednesday, Joseph A. Deese, 34, a businessman with ties to Keefe Group, pleaded guilty in federal court to bribery and kickback charges. His co-defendant, Edward L. Duggar, 64, plead guilty to similar charges in March.
Both men were indicted after a long investigation into Keefe Group’s ties to prison officials. James V. Crosby, who was appointed prison secretary by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and another high-ranking official, Allen W. Clark, have already served federal time in connection with the case.
According to prosecutors, Duggar, also owner of a Tallahassee Allstate Insurance company, befriended Crosby shortly after his appointment. Through the friendship, Duggar was given access to the prisons’ Police Benevolent Association for the purpose of selling insurance to prison guards. Crosby also introduced both Duggar and Deese to Keefe CEO Jack Donnelly.
In a report by prisoncensorship.info, as part of the kickback scheme, Duggar and Deese created a company and were given a “piece” of the Keefe Group cantina business. In return, the pair made monthly payments to Crosby, Clark and Donnelly.
Federal prosecutor Thomas O’Neil says local police received a tip, which was turned over to the FBI. Wiretaps captured several conversations between parties setting up bribery payments. Duggar and Deese initially denied the allegations but later confessed when presented with the tapes.
Although no Keefe official to date has been charged, O’Neill says he won’t rule out additional charges being filed.
Duggar and Dees are scheduled for sentencing in July.