Two white men -- one from Grayslake and the other from Kentucky -- were found guilty last week of passing their Chicago cable installation company off as black-owned, a front that allowed them to win $8.3 million in contracts, prosecutors said.
Matthew Giovenco of Grayslake and Guy Potter of Kentucky were convicted in federal court Thursday of six counts of mail fraud.
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According to the complaint, the men formed a cable installation company called ICS Cable in 2003. They paid a black woman named Cheronne Mayes to falsify ICS's paperwork with the city's Minority and Women Owned Procurement program through 2006. The pair also hired Mayes' son, Jerone Brown, who is also black, to falsely represent the company as president, the complaint said. The point of the program is to promote women- and minority-owned businesses in the city.
The city certified ICS Cable as minority owned in 2003, and the company had a deal with RCN Cable to do its installation and disconnection services. But it was Giovenco and Potter who made most, if not all of the company's financial and management decisions, the complaint said.
Prosecutors say that the charade allowed the company to take in $8.3 million in revenue over three years. Potter made $1.3 million, Giovenco made $800,000, Brown made $47,000 and Mayes made $17,000, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tinos Diamantatos.
In 2006, the city's inspector general sent a subpoena to Brown, Diamantatos said. Potter and Mayes later withdrew the company's minority business certification and told RCN, which terminated their contract.
Brown and Mayes initially were charged with six counts of mail fraud each. They pleaded guilty to one count each and the government will recommend lighter sentences because they testified against Giovenco and Potter, Diamantatos said.
Giovenco and Potter could spend up to 20 years in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced on July 29. Giovenco's attorney could not be reached for comment Saturday.