Elk Grove business owner, Eric Blaine Hodgson, 43, was sentenced to state prison for nine years for defrauding the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) out of $1.9 million dollars.
Special agents with the California Department of Justice (DOJ) arrested Hodgson in April on 22 counts of grand theft. Hodgson is the owner of Phenix Print & Image and was accused of defrauding Caltrans of $1.9 million dollars by billing Caltrans for work that was never done. Caltrans hired Phenix Print & Image to advertise new construction contracts to bidders, as required by law, but the information never made it to publication.
A DOJ investigation began after CalTrans staff discovered fraudulent invoices for print advertisements that never actually ran in local newspapers as promised. Special agents discovered Hodgson used false and fraudulent documentation to pull off the grand theft scheme starting back in 2008. Reports are Hodgson used the money to pay off a mortgage, to buy toys and comics and to pay for exotic trips for him and his company staff.
Hodgson agreed to a plea deal that, in addition to the nine-year prison sentence, includes the forfeiture of two homes, two cars, several retirement accounts and a collection of Star Wars items worth more than $10,000. He pleaded guilty to seven of the 22 counts as part of the plea deal.
"DOJ special agents investigated, got an arrest warrant, and based on their work, this man pleaded guilty and the state is recovering the public's money that was stolen," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA). CSLEA represents DOJ special agents along with nearly 7,000 other law enforcement, public safety and consumer protection professionals who work for the state of California. "When so many Californians have been struggling just to make a house payment, this man paid off his mortgage, and paid for exotic trips for him and his company staff, all on the public's dime."