Higgins gets trial delay and makes corruption allegations

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Higgins trial delayed in federal corruption investigation

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Dayton businessman Brian Higgins on Tuesday told a federal judge he is not guilty of a crime and has instead spent the past 10 years “exposing public corruption.”

Higgins, 49, was granted a continuance to November of his trial on charges related to the Dayton region public corruption investigation announced last year by federal officials. He had been scheduled for trial on July 27.

Higgins pleaded not guilty to three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. On Tuesday he told U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. Rose that if the government proves his guilt, Rose should sentence him “to the maximum allowed by law.”

RELATED Indictment: Businessman used money from insurance at casino and for phone bill

In a statement read into the record Higgins denied wrongdoing and said he was caught up in a federal “dragnet operation led by a questionable confidential informant in which I have been publicly tarred and feathered.”

Higgins previously said that informant was Mike Marshall, co-owner of United Demolition Excavation and Site Management of Dayton.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Marshall said on Tuesday, declining to comment further.

Higgins said he had “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars unearthing what may go down as one of the largest public corruption schemes of modern times.” He did not specify where that corruption occurred other than to indicate it involved Chicago.

Local businessman Brian Higgins is facing federal charges stemming from an FBI investigation.
Local businessman Brian Higgins is facing federal charges stemming from an FBI investigation.

FBI spokesman Todd E. Lindgren declined comment and United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David M. DeVillers could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Higgins was one of seven people indicted last year in the local federal investigation of public corruption. Three were convicted, including former Dayton City Commissioner Joey D. Williams, former city of Dayton employee RoShawn Winburn, 46, of Huber Heights, and former state Rep. Clayton Luckie, 56, of Dayton. Williams and Luckie have been released from prison and Winburn awaits sentencing.

RELATED: Former state Rep. Clayton Luckie released from federal prison

Awaiting trial are former Trotwood Mayor Joyce Sutton Cameron, 71, of Trotwood, owner of Green Star Trucking Inc., and Germantown businessman Steve Rauch, 65, who owns Steve Rauch Inc. Both pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and six counts of mail fraud. They are scheduled for trial on Nov. 9.

Steve Rauch (seated) confers with his attorneys prior to an earlier court appearance. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF
Steve Rauch (seated) confers with his attorneys prior to an earlier court appearance. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

Cameron's husband, James Cameron, 81, was charged with the same counts but has not entered a plea.

RELATED: State reviews status of trucking company after corruption indictment

The indictment alleges Higgins, 48, defrauded insurance company Assurant out of more than $100,000 by falsely claiming that the money was being used to repair damage from a leaking fish tank on a home he co-owned on Meeker Creek Drive in Montgomery County. Higgins said he hired Marshall’s United Demolition to do the work.

Higgins is accused of allegedly using the insurance money at a casino, and to pay for a planned restaurant and his phone bill, according to the indictment.

RELATED: Confidential informants, secret recordings reveal ex-city commissioner bribery scheme

Higgins sued Marshall and his business partner in March and that case is pending in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. Marshall's attorney John Hilgeman said his client will deny Higgins' allegations once he has been served the required paperwork.

A Dayton Daily News investigation earlier this year found that Marshall was a confidential FBI informant who recorded conversations with Williams, who last year pleaded guilty to corruptly soliciting a bribe. Williams used his influence as a commissioner to get the city to hire United Demolition but the company did such poor work that the city withheld payment on those contracts, the investigation found.

Marshall earlier denied he was the informant in the Williams case.

Former Dayton City Commissioner Joey D. Williams on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, pleaded guilty and was convicted of one count of corruptly soliciting a bribe, a federal felony. Williams (left) is with his attorney, Patrick John Hanley. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF
Former Dayton City Commissioner Joey D. Williams on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, pleaded guilty and was convicted of one count of corruptly soliciting a bribe, a federal felony. Williams (left) is with his attorney, Patrick John Hanley. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF

Williams, 54, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison but was released to home confinement last week because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic affecting crowded prisons. He had begun serving his term in March in the federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky. Williams said he does not have COVID-19.

RELATED: Ex-City Commissioner Joey Williams confirms early release, home confinement

Higgins is co-owner of Quincy’s restaurant in Dayton and owned 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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