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Federal jury convicts Jasper family of all charges

Picture courtesy KJAS

A Jasper couple and their daughter has been found guilty of federal conspiracy violations related to the misappropriation of hurricane relief funds.

Walter Diggles, 65, his wife, Rosie Diggles, 63, both of Jasper, and their daughter, Anita Diggles, 41, of Houston, were found guilty of 28 counts including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, theft from programs receiving federal funds and engaging in monetary transactions from unlawful activity.

The jury deliberated for two and a half hours before returning the guilty verdict late Thursday following a nine-day trial before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.

Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said in a prepared statement that the verdict amounts to justice for the 12 counties in the Deep East Texas Council of Governments, for which Diggles worked as the executive director and used as the starting point for funneling the government funds.

“Our Constitution provides for trial by jury for those who contest criminal charges,” Featherston said. “The jury in this case heard, viewed and studied the evidence that was presented over nine days of trial, from both the defense and the government. At the ringing of the bell, the verdict was guilty for all and on all counts. Justice for all of the DETCOG’s 12 counties and for the taxpayers has been done.”

According to information presented in court, the Diggles family devised a scheme to personalize federal block grant funds that Congress appropriated following Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Ike, and Dolly.

These funds were made available to the state, which in turn contracted with several councils of governments within the state to assist in administering and distributing the funds.

Walter Diggles used his position as the executive director of DETCOG to approve inflated requests for reimbursement of federal block grant funds. Rosie and Anita Diggles prepared many of the requests.

From the U.S. attorney's office:

Additionally, Walter Diggles engaged in activities and approved requests for block grant funds that were fraudulent in nature and all the defendants spent the excess funds on personal expenses. The Diggles were indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 2, 2015.
Under federal statutes, the Diggles each face up to 30 years in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.



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