Dayton businessman Brian Higgins was taken into custody after being sentenced on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose on five federal charges related to insurance fraud.
Higgins, 51, was sentenced to 36 months in prison on witness retaliation convictions and 24 months on mail fraud convictions, according to Jennifer Thornton, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. The terms are to be served concurrently.
He also was ordered to pay restitution of $84,113.04, according to court documents.
Higgins, of Dayton, was found guilty in January of three counts of mail fraud and two counts of tampering with a witness with intent to retaliate. The jury found Higgins not guilty of two counts of tampering with a witness.
Higgins’ attorney, Tamara S. Sack, could not be reached for comment.
Higgins was accused of defrauding insurance company Assurant of money the company paid him for repairs that were to be made to a home he co-owned in Dayton.
“According to court documents and trial testimony, in 2014 and 2015, Higgins filed a fraudulent insurance claim in connection with water damage to the Meeker Residence, an 8,000 square-foot house in Dayton,” Parker’s office said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Higgins received more than $100,000 in insurance claims that he used for his personal benefit rather than to repair water damage that occurred from a 600-gallon fish tank.
Higgins used the money for personal expenses, including travel, hotels, dining out, funding a new restaurant, paying telephone bills and at a casino, according to the news release.
Higgins used a “small amount of the money to complete small, cosmetic repairs in an attempt to cover up his scheme,” Parker’s release said.
The witness tampering charges were related to a civil lawsuit he filed against Mike Marshall, Scott Waters and their now-defunct company United Demolition Excavation and Site Management of Dayton. Both Marshall and Waters testified for the prosecution.
Higgins was the final defendant of those indicted as part of a federal public corruption investigation in the Dayton region announced in 2019. His was the only case that did not involve public contracting allegations. Higgins is also the only defendant who did not reach a pretrial guilty plea agreement with prosecutors.
That investigation led to the convictions of:
- Former Dayton city commissioner Joey D. Williams, 56, of Dayton, on one count of corruptly soliciting a bribe.
- Former state representative Clayton Luckie, 58, of Dayton on one count of mail fraud.
- Former Dayton city employee RoShawn Winburn, 48, of Huber Heights on one count of corruptly soliciting a bribe.
- Green Star Trucking, owned by former Trotwood Mayor Joyce Sutton Cameron, 73, on one count of conspiracy to engage in mail fraud.
- Steve Rauch Inc., owned by Steve Rauch, 66, of Germantown, on one count of conspiracy to engage in mail fraud.
The two companies were fined, Luckie served his term and Williams was released from prison early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Winburn is scheduled to begin serving his term on August 10.
United Demolition was the company Williams took a bribe from to help the company get a city contract, and it ultimately did such poor work that the city withheld payment on those contracts, a 2020 Dayton Daily News investigation found.
Higgins is the former owner of the now-defunct Sidebar 410 restaurant in the Oregon District. Another business of his, GSSP Enterprise, had a contract to haul bodies for the Montgomery County Coroner’s office. That contract was terminated after a 2012 Dayton Daily News investigation found GSSP was delinquent on hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal and state taxes, and that Higgins had an undisclosed business relationship with Ken Betz, who was then the director of the coroner’s office.
Credit: Montgomery County Jail
Credit: Montgomery County Jail