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Contractor Pleads Guilty to Scheme to Hide Assets From Safeco Surety

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The owner of a South Carolina paving contractor recently pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit money laundering through a scheme to hide assets from surety after he couldn’t finish work on a road project for the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

Marlon Weaver, owner of Conway, S.C.-based Weaver Co. Inc., was awarded a contract in September 2008 for paving and asphalt on SCDOT Project I-95 Rehabilitation Dillon-Florence Counties. Safeco Insurance Co. of America provided performance and payment bonds and a general indemnity agreement for the job.

Weaver’s company was hired to do concrete patching, asphalt work and bridge approach replacement on a 23-mile stretch of I-95 in Florence and Dillon counties.

But just a year later, in Sept. 2009, Weaver Co. began having problems on the project and couldn’t pay its subcontractors and material suppliers. In Nov. 2009, SCDOT told Weaver it had declared the company in default of the contract. Safeco had to complete Weaver’s contracts and pay its suppliers, costs totaling more than $6 million. Weaver Co. went out of business in December 2009.

The plea agreement stipulates forfeiture of $1.2 million of Weaver’s assets – an amount equal to the proceeds from the money laundering scheme, according to the agreement, as well as a $250,000 fine, a 10-year prison sentence and supervised prison release of 3 years.

Weaver agreed to make full restitution as part of the agreement. Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of between 37 months and 46 months for the contractor.

The federal indictment details how Weaver worked with family members and Archie Evans, a former Conway pastor who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating an unrelated Ponzi scheme, to hide money from Safeco Insurance Co. Weaver gave Safeco a list of assets to reimburse the company in the case of a default; one of the assets was Weaver’s partial interest in a Bucksport marina project owned by Weaver Five LLC.

According to federal prosecutors, in early 2010 Weaver sold his interest in the marina project but created fake documents to make it seem like his interest had been sold before the default. He created a limited liability corporation called BEJ LLC to hide proceeds from the sale of his interest in the marina, according to court records.

The $501,000 in proceeds was divided into three cashier’s checks issued in the names of Weaver’s daughters and deposited into their bank accounts in February 2010, according to court records. The next day, that money was transferred to a newly opened bank account for BEJ LLC. During the next several months, Weaver withdrew money from the BEJ LLC account in increments below the threshold that would have required the bank to issue a currency transaction report to the federal government ($10,0000), according to the indictment. The money from those transactions was given to

Evans, who then deposited them into his bank account. Between January 2011 and November 2011, the money was taken from Evans’ account and put into a trust account at another bank.

Federal authorities began investigating Weaver due to the nature of his crimes. Because of the amount of money involved—more than $1 million—and because of the structured deposits and the fact that Weaver used the US mail to conduct the scheme to hide the assets, said Bill Day, the Assistant US Attorney in Florence, S.C., who prosecuted the case. The scheme stands out as a rare one for the prosecutor.

“It’s an unusual case. I haven’t had one exactly like this and I have been prosecuting for 20 years,” Day said.

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