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Ex-mayoral candidate, co-conspirator must pay $3.8M in fraud case

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James Moody, former Toledo mayoral candidate and local Realtor, is serving a 66-month prison sentence.

The Blade
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One-time Toledo mayoral candidate James Moody and the founder of a company that defrauded the Lucas County Department of Job & Family Services were ordered Tuesday to pay nearly $3.8 million in restitution to the county agency.

Moody, 57, of Sylvania Township, the sole shareholder of a job training company known as Business Rehabilitation Informed Decisions Guiding Employment Strategies, or BRIDGES, is serving a 66-month sentence in federal prison for his conviction at trial in December for conspiracy to commit program fraud and mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and other charges.

Daniel E. Morris, 68, of Maumee, the founder and general manager of BRIDGES, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit program fraud and mail fraud, conspiracy to launder money, aggravated identity theft, and failure to pay withheld taxes. He is scheduled to begin serving a 46-month sentence on Oct. 5.

In his order of restitution, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary ordered that Moody and Morris together pay $3,786,441 to Lucas County Department of Job & Family Services, while Morris also was ordered to pay $211,784 to the Internal Revenue Service for failure to pay withheld taxes.

“Moody’s argument that ‘the victim got the services it paid for at a reasonable price’ is wrong both factually and legally,” the judge wrote in his order. “There was pecuniary harm to the victim when [Moody], like Morris, was responsible for the misuse of funds.”

Former BRIDGES employee Victoria Hawkins, 31, of Grand Rapids, Mich., also was convicted at trial and sentenced to 54 months in prison. Judge Zouhary ordered her to pay $1,008,617 in restitution to Job & Family Services. 

Another former employee, Angela Bowser, 46, of Toledo, who was convicted and sentenced to 36 months in prison, was ordered to pay $35,678.

Attorney Brad Hubbell, who represented Morris, said the judge's order reflects the amounts federal prosecutors were seeking.

“I don't believe the number reflects a realistic restitution order that my client can ever repay. ... I think he has the ability to work and earn money, but he also has a four-year sentence he's looking at,” Mr. Hubbell said.

For years, BRIDGES had contracts with the county to provide job training and placement for low-income residents. While BRIDGES provided those services, Morris skimmed millions of dollars between 2011 and 2015, distributing it to Moody as “payroll checks” or “dividends” and to Hawkins and Bowser in the form of cash, real estate, vehicles, and other nonpayroll benefits.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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