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Yoda Seized in Contractor Fraud

Friday, July 19, 2013

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The force was strong with California officials when they nabbed a contractor who pocketed close to $2 million dollars after defrauding the California Department of Transportation.

Eric Hodgson, 43, of Elk Grove, CA, was contracted to make print advertisements for Caltrans' new construction contracts. Instead, he faked invoices, using the money to buy Star Wars collectibles, among other items.

Caltrans seized Yoda
Office of the Attorney General

While Eric Hodgson serves his nine-year prison sentence for defrauding Caltrans, his collection of Star Wars items, including this three-foot-tall Yoda, will be auctioned off by the state.

Hodgson agreed to a plea deal that included a nine-year state prison sentence and forfeiture of his personal and real property, which includes two residences, two cars, several retirement accounts, and a collection of Stars Wars items worth more than $10,000, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced last Friday (July 12).

The seized Star Wars collection included a three-foot-tall rubber Yoda statue, two limited-edition light sabers (Darth Vader and Skywalker models), an encased Millenium Falcon spacecraft model and an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) walker model.

Eric Hodgson

Hodgson used the money to not only buy a $10,000 Star Wars collection, but for exotic trips, cars, mortgages, and toys and comics.

The state plans to auction of the Star Wars memorabilia.

Defraud Caltrans, You Will Not

Hodgson was arrested in April on 22 counts of grand theft stemming from a California Department of Justice investigation. The investigation started after Caltrans staff discovered fraudulent invoices for print advertisements that had never actually run in local newspapers as promised.

As part of the plea deal, Hodgson pleaded guilty to seven of the 22 counts in Sacramento Superior Court.

The company Hodgson owns, Phenix Print & Image, was hired by Caltrans to publicly advertise new construction contracts to bidders. The investigation of invoices submitted by Phenix found two contracts from 2008 and 2009 that totaled more than $1.8 million.

Caltrans contractor fraud
Office of the Attorney General

An investigation found that Hodgson defrauded Caltrans out of almost $1.9 million from two contracts in 2008 and 2009. A third contract in 2011 was terminated by Caltrans.

The investigation found that Hodgson defrauded Caltrans of almost $1.9 million by submitting false documentation. He used the money to pay off a mortgage, buy toys and comics, and pay for exotic trips for him and his company staff.

A third contract, awarded to Phenix in 2011 for more than $800,000, was terminated by Caltrans before any invocies were paid.


Tagged categories: Bidding; Contractors; Contracts; Department of Transportation (DOT); Laws and litigation

Comment from josh hutcheson, (7/19/2013, 10:47 AM)

now if they only went after the fraud in their goverenment the same way they would not be broke

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