110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Dilligard indictment may spark Volusia voter-registration investigation
Former DeLand commissioner indicted in New Jersey fraud case
By Pat Andrews
posted Apr 10, 2012 - 3:09:10pm
UPDATE APRIL 11: The indictment of DeLand politician Terry Dilligard Sr., in connection with a fraud case in New Jersey, may kick off a voter-registration investigation in Volusia County.
Volusia County Elections Supervisor Ann McFall is looking closely at the registrations of nine Florida residents named in the New Jersey indictment: Chrystan Clark, Nicole Davis, James Gordon, Clifford Lewis, Andrea Lyles, Edgar Shipman, Leticia Starke, Felicia Williams and Larry Williams.
McFall said people registered with six of those nine names had been eliminated from voter rolls because of felony convictions, but in some cases had re-registered, apparently without going through the rights-restoration process.
A convicted felon who knowingly registers to vote without declaring his or her status may be found guilty of a third-degree felony and could be jailed for up to five years, McFall said.
So far, she said, there is nothing in her records to link Dilligard with these particular voters. More investigation is needed, too, because the indictment doesn't list birth dates or other identifying information that would distinguish the people involved in the fraud case from other voters who have the same names.
McFall said she could find no Chrystan Clark ever registered to vote in Volusia County. Also, she said, there were too many James Gordons and Nicole Davises to determine which might be involved.
Dilligard is accused by New Jersey officials with providing his son in New Jersey with information obtained through voter-registration efforts, which the New Jersey State Attorney's Office said the son used to steal the individuals' identities and obtain unemployment benefits in their names.
McFall said her office has not been contacted by New Jersey investigators about the case.
The son and other New Jersey family members of Dilligard were also indicted.
Dilligard's attorney said his client knew nothing about the family's activities in New Jersey.
REPORTED EARLIER: Volusia County Council candidate Terry Dilligard Sr. and four of his relatives have been indicted by a New Jersey grand jury on charges of theft by deception and conspiracy. They are accused of making fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits.
Dilligard Sr., who lives in DeLand, was a city commissioner 2003-07. Several months ago, he announced his candidacy for the District 1 seat on the Volusia County Council.
His attorney, David Damore of Daytona Beach, said Dilligard Sr. has known about the New Jersey investigation of his family members for more than 18 months, but had been assured by New Jersey officials he would not be indicted in the case, because no evidence or witness links him to the alleged fraudulent activity.
All that changed, Damore said, when the prosecutor changed.
"Apparently a new prosecutor has gotten ahold of it, and has done the proverbial 'Let's throw it all in the fan and see what sticks,'" Damore said.
The New Jersey indictment alleges that, while registering voters, Dilligard Sr. obtained the personal information of nine voters, including their Social Security numbers and dates of birth, and that his son, Terry Dilligard II, 35, paid Dilligard Sr. a share of the benefits fraudulently obtained by using that information in New Jersey between 2006 and 10. The father and son are charged with second-degree identify theft, also.
According to the grand-jury indictment handed down in March, both men, along with Dillgard II's mother, Janice Allen, 55, and Dilligard II's twin sister, Janice, all of Newark, N.J., and Dilligard II's former girlfriend and the mother of his children, Monique Valentine, 33, were part of a conspiracy involving 26 others to steal more than $2 million in unemployment benefits in the Newark area.
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office said $174,848 of the money was obtained using the identities of the nine voters in Florida.
Damore said the voter-registration information Dilligard used during voter-registration drives in Volusia County was no different than the public information anyone could obtain.
"At the time of these allegations, you and I could have walked down and gotten any of this information from these voter-registration documents," Damore said.
It is possible that voter-registration information was in Dilligard Sr.'s house, where family members would have had access to it, Damore said. At any rate, Dilligard Sr. should not have been charged, he said. He said Dilligard Sr., to his knowledge, has not visited New Jersey at any time when the alleged fraudulent activity was going on.
"If his son has been doing something, he has been doing it without my client's knowledge," Damore said.
Peter Aseltine of the New Jersey Attorney General's Office said no arrest warrant has been issued for Dilligard Sr., nor has any extradition proceeding begun.
A New Jersey attorney will represent Dilligard Sr. at a pretrail arraignment conference scheduled Friday, April 13, Damore said. Dilligard Sr. was not required to attend.
An arraignment will be scheduled, probably in early May, and Dilligard Sr. will be ordered to appear in a New Jersey court then.
Dilligard II was also charged with money laundering.
“This is an outrageous case of fraud and greed that revolves around members of a Newark family who allegedly orchestrated schemes to steal over $2 million from the state’s unemployment insurance fund,” said New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.
The Attorney General's Office called the investigation "Operation Labor Day," and uses a chart identifying the Dilligard family beneath the title.
Chiesa noted the theft came at a time when unemployment-compensation benefits are "a financial lifeline" for people who have lost jobs during this tough economy.
New security measures are in effect with the New Jersey Department of Labor as a result of the case.
DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar noted that the charges against Dilligard Sr. are serious, but not proven.
"We've got to let the criminal-justice system run its course," Apgar said.
The mayor said he thought Dilligard Sr. worked voter registration when he was running for state representative in 2008, after leaving his seat on the City Commission.
After he announced his candidacy for the County Council in November, Dilligard Sr. said his first priority as a council member would be to "Create some more jobs in this area."
The Beacon was unable to contact Dilligard Sr. for comment on this story.
During Dilligard Sr.'s time on the DeLand City Commission, Apgar said, "He was prepared, quiet, and had the city's best interests at heart."
In a separate and subsequent case, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office charged Dilligard II with theft by deception and on nine charges of uttering forged instruments by duplicating casino checks that were issued to him from Harrah's Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, then cashing the duplicates or depositing them in his bank account. The Attorney General's Office alleged that Dilligard II stole $165,600 in this manner.
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