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Road builder guilty of fraud
Michael Cone also awaits sentencing on federal charges from last year.
By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published February 8, 2008
In 1999, Michael Cone, right, pleaded no contest to state criminal charges of failing to pay subcontractors and avoided a possible 20-year prison term.
A Leon County jury has found a Tampa-based construction company and its president guilty of an organized scheme to defraud the Florida Department of Transportation.
Attorney General Bill McCollum's office prosecuted the case against Michael Cone and Cone Constructors.
Cone's company served as general contractor for portions of the Suncoast Parkway in Hillsborough and Pasco counties from July 1999 through May 2000.
The Attorney General's Office said that Cone filed false certificates with the state saying he paid all of his subcontractors when he had not.
The department paid Cone Constructors - once one of the state's 10 largest road builders - $9-million for the job.
In October, Cone, his wife Joanne Cone and employee Patricia Rankin Grable pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and bankruptcy fraud.
Federal prosecutors said Cone's company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000 as employees were busy hiding money and assets from the government. The Cone's and Grable hid more than $1-million in property after Cone Constructors filed for bankruptcy, federal investigators said.
In 1999, Michael Cone pleaded no contest to state criminal charges of failing to pay subcontractors and avoided a possible 20-year prison term. The Transportation Department prohibited his company from bidding on state projects for the next four years.
A sentencing date for Michael Cone's conviction by the Leon County jury has not been set.
On the federal charges, the Cones and Grable are scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew on March 28. Michael Cone and Grable each face a maximum of 35 years in prison. Joanne Cone faces five years in prison.