Fla. Couple Nailed for $1.5 Million in Construction Contract Fraud

April 8, 2004

Attorney General Charlie Crist and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary José Abreu announced the arrest of a Central Florida couple for defrauding the state out of more than $1.5 million in road construction and maintenance contracts.

Dawn Michelle Calhoun, 34, of Orlando, and Robert Lee Calhoun, 38, of Palm Bay, were charged with one count of first-degree organized fraud, one count of second-degree conspiracy to commit organized fraud, and seven counts of third-degree communications fraud.

The couple allegedly submitted documents to DOT falsely claiming that their crews had the necessary safety certifications to work on Florida’s roadways in order to secure road construction and maintenance contracts for their company, Calhoun Enterprises of Central Florida. The Calhouns received an initial $430,000 based on these fraudulent documents.

“We will prosecute individuals who blatantly disregard the safety of Floridians and steal taxpayer dollars,” said Crist. “Citizens should feel safe driving on our roads, and they certainly should not have to pay twice to repair them.”

Noting that national work zone fatalities have increased 55 percent between 1997 and 2002, Secretary Abreu said his department is dedicated to the reduction of work zone-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities through increased training, public education and enforcement. Although most contractors on state road projects are worthy of the public trust, Secretary Abreu said these allegations must be aggressively pursued.

Robert Calhoun was booked into the Brevard County Jail and Dawn Calhoun, who also reportedly uses the name Dawn M. Carter, was booked into the Orange County Jail. Bond for each was set at $15,000. If convicted of the charges, the two face up to $60,000 in fines, 80 years in prison and restitution.

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