Former Miami-Dade County Employees Arrested for Fleecing Taxpayers By Tod Aronovitz | 06/07/13 | 0 Comment

Jesus “Jay” Pons, 51, a former employee of the Miami-Dade Internal Services department, was arrested on charges of racketeering, fraud, grand-theft, extortion and other white-collar crimes in an early-morning raid of his Coral Gables home on June 4.

His arrest concluded a long-standing investigation into Pons and Data Industries, Inc., an IT consulting and staffing company that has earned more than $16 million in taxpayer-funded contracts since 2001. According to prosecutors, while Pons was working for the county in the General Services Administration department (now Internal Services), he coordinated a scheme to overbill for work never done by Data Industries, then arranged to receive between 10 and 50 percent of their profits. Authorities calculate that Pons bilked taxpayers out of $3 million over a decade, allowing county contracts to swell to preposterous dollar amounts.

Also arrested in the scheme was wife Diana Pons, an accountant, and Bruno Diaz, Pons’ brother-in-law who was a senior systems analyst in the agency.

The expansive General Services Administration (GSA), which manages buildings and properties, handles billing, and coordinates real estate purchases, hired Data Industries in 2006 for $760,000. Under Pons’ direction, the contract swelled to $10.7 million. In all, investigators say at least $6 million was stolen, with half going to Pons.

The probe began when a subcontractor was cut out of a deal. Suspicious of the figures, he informed a private investigator, who in turn told police about the situation. After the investigation was being publicized, the head of Data Industries, Paul Raifaizen, allowed investigators to access financial records and computers while detailing how the scheme unfolded in exchange for his immunity. Investigators learned the company had long been paying Pons for “inside information” on county technology contracts dating back to the 1990s.

Pons and brother-in-law Diaz were relieved of duty following a 2011 police raid on their desks at County Hall. They later resigned their county jobs. Pons’ supervisor, Clayton Baptiste, also resigned amid the investigation. Lester Sola, who now heads Internal Services, said Baptiste gave Pons too much leeway and signed “blank purchase orders.” Unrelated to the investigation, former GSA Director Wendy Norris also resigned, Sola said.

How to Report Government Billing Fraud

Government employees or contractors who have inside knowledge of questionable billing practices can file a confidential legal claim under the False Claims Act. By acting as a “whistleblower” in what is known as a “qui tam” lawsuit, a private party may collect between 10 to 30 percent of the amount recovered, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam Law Firm

The Miami whistleblower law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW routinely works with Miami whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. Contact Miami Whistleblower / Qui Tam lawyer Tod Aronovitz to discuss a case.