ORLANDO, Fla. – A man whose business was contracted with the Seminole County Tax Collector’s Office by Joel Greenberg now faces charges in a fraud scheme, according to court records.
Michael Shirley was arrested in Texas on Aug. 31 after an indictment on fraud charges was handed down on Aug. 10 by a Florida grand jury.
Shirley faces 1 count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and 4 counts of honest services fraud.
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The indictment states that Shirley is the owner of a company, Praetorian Integrated Services, which was hired in January 2017 by a “local governmental agency of Seminole County.”
The indictment does not say which government agency; however, a consulting services agreement dated Jan. 3, 2017, shows Greenberg hired Praetorian as a “consultant” with a fee of $12,500 per month. Shirley signed that contract for Praetorian while Greenberg signed on behalf of the tax collector’s office.
Greenberg officially took office on Jan. 3, 2017.
Read the consulting services agreement below:
According to the indictment, Shirley would submit inflated invoices to the government agency for goods and services. It also states that Shirley would then pay bribes and kickbacks to a “public official” in exchange for “receiving favorable action.” This favorable action included hiring Shirley and Praetorian and ensuring they were paid, including the inflated invoices.
The indictment states that the conspiracy included plans for Shirley to use another co-conspirator as an intermediary between himself and the “public official” who was being bribed.
This co-conspirator is not named in the indictment; however, another former associate of Greenberg, Joe Ellicott, pleaded guilty in February after prosecutors accused him of serving as an intermediary between a public official believed to be Greenberg and a contractor that provided printing services, shirts, envelopes and business cards. Greenberg and the contractor are not named in court records.
That contractor in that case submitted inflated invoices to the public official’s office, including one with more than a 90% markup, that enriched the contractor and defrauded the government agency, court records allege. That contractor was not named at the time of Ellicott’s guilty plea.
As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors are expected to ask a judge for leniency in exchange for Ellicott’s cooperation in other criminal investigations. He is set to be sentenced in October and faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each charge against him — taking part in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and illegally distributing the prescription drug Adderall.
The indictment states that Shirley and his co-conspirator devised a cover story for the bribes, making it appear as though Shirley was giving the co-conspirator money to purchase a portion of the co-conspirator’s business.
In all, Shirley made at least $466,625.72 through this scheme, according to the indictment.
According to an audit of the Seminole County tax collector’s office conducted following Greenberg’s arrest, Praetorian was paid $412,000 for “consulting fees only.” The audit notes the company “Also charged us for supplies as well such as uniform shirts, envelopes. Higher than every other vendor.”
The Acting tax collector and CFO told auditors at the time that Shirley did “Nothing to my knowledge. He was helpful in getting Joel elected. He never headed projects or anything after I got here in June of 2017. No evidence of work product.”
Shirley is set to be arraigned at the federal courthouse in Orlando on Thursday.
Read the indictment against Shirley below:
Greenberg has pleaded guilty in May 2021 to child sex trafficking, aggravated identity theft, production of a false identification document, wire fraud, stalking and conspiracy. Since entering this plea, Greenberg has been cooperating with federal and state agents in other criminal investigations.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.
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