BEAUMONT, Texas - From U.S. Attorney's Office - Two Hardin County, Texas men have been indicted and charged with theft of federal program funds in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Tony Lynn Thornton, Sr., 51, and Anthony Welborn Jones, 51, both of Kountze, Texas, were indicted on Nov. 28, 2012, and charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and two counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. Thornton is also charged with seven counts of bank fraud. Thornton appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin for an initial appearance. Jones has already had an initial appearance
According to the 10-count indictment, which was unsealed today in federal court, Thornton was executive director/chairman of the Hardin County Disaster Recovery Alliance (HCDRA), and controlled and operated the HCDRA residential repair and renovation program following Hurricane Rita's impact on the Texas Gulf Coast on Sep. 24, 2005. Jones controlled and operated Dependable Maintenance and Construction (Dependable), a residential building/contracting business he operated out of his home. Dependable was contracted to do home repair and renovations for HCDRA. Thornton also owned County Seat Lumber Company, a lumber yard and store in Kountze, Texas, that sold building materials to HCDRA, Jones and other contractors that were employed by HCDRA. Between January 2007 and June 2008, Thornton and Jones are alleged to have conspired to defraud HCDRA by obtaining payment for repairs to houses that Jones did not complete. Jones is alleged to have submitted fraudulent invoices to Thornton, who in turn would use his position as executive director to obtain payment from HCDRA for Jones by falsely representing that the work was done as billed and securing payment for Jones. County Seat Lumber Company then received payment from Jones and HCDRA for building materials that Thornton falsely represented were used for HCDRA renovated homes. Additionally, Thornton is alleged to have created a fictitious vendor file for HCDRA in order to pay his wife's credit card bills.
If convicted, Thornton and Jones each face up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years for each of the theft charges. Thornton also faces up to 30 years in federal prison for each of the bank fraud charges.
This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte.
A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.