FDLE affidavit shows new info in $700K Port Authority racketeering scheme

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

There is new information about how accused and arrested suspects tried stealing nearly $1 million from Southwest Florida International Airport.

According to an affidavit, Florida Department of Law Enforcement named suspect Thomas Brennan as the ringleader of a ghost employee scheme through the Lee County Port Authority he and nine other suspects are accused, ripping more than $700,000 from the Lee County.

“There was an opportunity where folks believed they could make some money and potentially get away with it,” said.

The document also names Jeffrey Gray, the port authority contracts director, and his son, Austin Gray, as being “involved in the time sheet fraud,” but they have not been arrested.

Lee County confirmed Jeffrey Gray resigned from his position this past July. This comes months after he was put on administrative leave after an inspector general report showed he allowed his son to park at the airport for free.

According to FDLE, Brennan was the site manager for Triangle Services of Florida, the janitorial company Lee County contracts to clean airports. Brennan is accused of hiring “ghost employees,” people who got paid for work they never did. Brennan would then submit falsified time sheets to the county.

But, in 2018, someone left an anonymous tip, and the scheme was discovered along with evidence.

According to FDLE, the “ghost employees” never used or were issued security access badges, never went through mandatory training or parked in the employee lot, all things a hired janitorial employee is required to do.

From there, agents followed the money. Prior to the arrests, FDLE spoke to some of the suspects. No one could explain what they did to earn the money they received.

Agents also spoke to the estranged wife of Brennan. She cooperated with FDLE and made phone calls to him during their investigation.

“When payday would come, these ghost employees would receive paychecks directly into the personal bank accounts,” said.

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