Dayton businessman Brian Higgins found guilty of federal charges

Dayton businessman Brian Higgins was found guilty Thursday on five federal charges related to insurance fraud

Higgins, 50, of Dayton, was found guilty of three counts of mail fraud and two counts of tampering with a witness with intent to retaliate, according to Jennifer Thornton, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker.

The jury found Higgins not guilty of two counts of tampering with a witness, she said.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 14 and Higgins will remain on bond as previously ordered in home detention with an electronic monitor and privileges to go to work and to medical and legal appointments, according to U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose.

His 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.

“According to court documents and trial testimony, in 2014 and 2015 Higgins filed an insurance claim in connection with water damage to the Meeker Creek residence, an 8,000 square-foot house in Dayton,” Parker’s office said in a Thursday news release. “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 large fish tank.”

He paid for for personal expenses, including travel, hotels and dining out and “used a fraction of the funds from the claim to complete small, cosmetic repairs in an attempt to cover up his scheme,” according to the news release.

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. Higgins sued them in 2020 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, claiming he had hired them to do the repairs to the home and but they did not do the work. That case was stayed in December 2020, pending the outcome of the federal criminal trial.

On Friday Marshall and Waters testified for the prosecution in Higgins’ trial, court documents show. The government rested its case on Tuesday and then Higgins took the stand in his own defense. .

Higgins was the final defendant of those indicted as part of a federal public corruption investigation in the Dayton region announced in 2019. Unlike the other defendants his case did not involve public contracting allegations. Authorities said they became aware of Higgins’ alleged criminal activities in the course of that broader investigation.

That investigation led to the convictions of:

  • Former Dayton city commissioner Joey D. Williams, 55, 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, 47, 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 May 10.

United Demolition was the company Williams took a bribe from to assist in obtaining 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. The investigation also found that Marshall was the confidential FBI informant who recorded Williams and Higgins. Marshall previously denied he was the informant.

Two confidential informants described as operators of a Dayton area demolition company “agreed to cooperate with the FBI in part to minimize their individual exposure to potential criminal charges for their respective roles in a scheme to defraud local government entities,” according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Williams’ case. It also says both informants “have received monetary payments from the FBI.”

Higgins was owner of the now-defunct Sidebar 410 restaurant in the Oregon District. Another previous 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.

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