Tifton man sentenced to prison in wire fraud case

Tifton man sentenced to prison in wire fraud case
Federal Judge Hugh Lawson handed down the sentence.

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A Tifton resident was entenced to prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud in a case involving U.S. Department of State contracts, said Peter Leary, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

Tony Mathis, 56, of Tifton, was sentenced on Dec. 16 by U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson to 50 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Mathis must also pay $18,371.12 in restitution to the victim, U.S. Personal Defense Products (USPDP). Of this amount, $16,944.12 is due jointly and severally with the co-defendant, Victoria Velez. Velez was referred for pretrial diversion.

Mathis was engaged as a bid subcontractor by USPDP, a company that supplies law enforcement and personal defense products, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Middle District of Georgia. USPDP was awarded a contract with the state department to supply a large amount of exercise equipment to the Kabul, Afghanistan embassy.

Mathis submitted an invoice to the Department of State in the amount of $16,944.12, using an email address that appeared to be from USPDP, but was a personal email address belonging to Mathis. Mathis included personal banking information and signed the requested EFT form, and the payment was sent to his personal account on April 5, 2018.

It was later discovered that Mathis committed a similar scheme in September 2017, after he bid on and won another State Department contract in the name of USPDP for $1,337 for windshield covers in Tunisia.

Mathis said he committed the fraud because he was owed money, according to U.S. attorney’s office for the Middle District of Georgia.

“Acts of fraud, whether against a small business or the U.S. Government, are taken seriously in the Middle District of Georgia, and those found breaking the law will face federal prosecution and prison,” said Leary. “I want to commend the Department of State Office of Inspector General for their work investigating this case.”

The investigation was conducted by Department of State Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McCullers prosecuted the case for the government.

Copyright 2020 WALB. All rights reserved.