Sylacauga man faces indictment on federal fraud charges
by Bill Kimber
Oct 16, 2013 | 7247 views |  0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sylacauga businessman Frank Lewis Conn will be arraigned next week in U.S. District Court in Birmingham on five counts of wire fraud, concerning billing for clearing power lines for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Conn was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury of padding invoices to the tune of $152,712 over the course of his company’s contract with TVA.

According to the indictment, Conn was owner and administrative manager of Conn Equipment Rental Company Inc. doing business as Vegetation Management Services LLC when the company contracted with TVA to remove vegetation from power lines and other TVA property. The original contract, entered into on March 5, 2008, called for Conn to be paid on a per-acre basis. On Jan. 19, 2009, the contract was amended to allow Conn to bill TVA an hourly rate.

The indictment looks at a period of February 2009 through October 2009 and alleges Conn submitted false invoices by inflating the hours that equipment was actually being used. During that period, Conn was paid via wire transfers totaling $284,084.56, and prosecutors allege $34,446 of that was fraudulent due to inflated billing.

Prosecutors seek forfeiture of $284,084.56.

Conn’s arraignment was initially scheduled for today, but was postponed a week, until Oct. 24 at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala.

The postponement was because Conn’s lawyer, Jim Parkman, is in court out of town, said Parkman’s associate, Clayton Tartt.

Tartt said there would be no comment about the case at this point.