DETCOG Executive Director Walter Diggles, Sr. (Right) at the 2015 Deep East Texas Reception with Texas State Senator Robert Nichols (Left) and DETCOG President/ Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter (Center), one year after the FBI raided DETCOG offices, including Diggles’ home and church. (picture Courtesy DETCOG) Mum’s the word in deep East Texas during DETCOG Christmas parties held in every county and attended by elected officials.
Editor’s note: The local East Texas media did not report last year’s raid on DETCOG offices, or the subsequent Dec. 2, 2015 indictment of DETCOG director Walter Diggles and his wife on Federal financial fraud charges of over $1.3 million — until the US Attorney’s Office press release. During the FBI investigation and after the raid, local politicians continued to eagerly solicit and receive federal grant money intended for hurricane victims. Diggles has been placed on paid leave. The full 51 page indictment can be read here, and includes the four unindicted Co-conspirators who worked at Diggles’ Lighthouse Church in Jasper and at the DETCOG office in Lufkin, TX. Board Members who come from a 12-county area, along with Public Accountants in Lufkin, sign off on Diggles’ fraudulent audit reports each year “despite uncertainties regarding FBI investigations and the Feb. 5, 2o14 raid of DETCOG offices.”
December 21, 2015 PRESS RELEASE FROM US ATTORNEYS OFFICE
BEAUMONT, Texas – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that two residents of Jasper, Texas, along with a resident of Houston, Texas, have been charged with federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas.
Walter Diggles, 62, Rosie Diggles, 61, and Anita Diggles, 39, were indicted on December 2, 2015, and jointly charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition, Walter Diggles was charged individually with eleven counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft from a program that receives federal funding, and three counts of money laundering (engaging in monetary transactions with money derived from unlawful activity). Rosie Diggles was also individually charged with ten counts of wire fraud and with one count of money laundering (engaging in monetary transactions with money derived from unlawful activity). Additionally, the indictment includes a notice of forfeiture stating that the Government is seeking to forfeit over $1.3 million from the defendants.
According to information presented in court, the defendants are alleged to have devised a scheme to obtain and make personal use of federal block grant funds that Congress appropriated following Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Ike, and Dolly. The indictment alleges that these funds were made available to the State of Texas, which in turn contracted with several councils of governments within the state to assist in administering and distributing the funds. Walter Diggles is the Executive Director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments, and the Indictment alleges that he made use of his position to approve inflated requests for reimbursement of federal block grant funds and that Rosie Diggles and Anita Diggles prepared many of the requests. The indictment also alleges that Walter Diggles individually engaged in activities and approved requests for block grant funds that were fraudulent in nature and that all of the defendants spent the excess funds on personal expenses.
The defendants had initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin today. They each face up to 30 years in federal prison if convicted of the charges.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE: A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and the Texas State Auditor’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tom Gibson and James Noble.