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Two Men Sentenced To Federal Prison For Minority Contracting Fraud

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CHICAGO (STMW) — A federal judge condemned what she called the “‘Where’s mine?’ mentality” of a pair of white fraudsters who ripped off Chicago’s minority contracting program Tuesday, sentencing them both to prison.

U.S. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said Guy Potter and Matt Giovenco were guilty of a “cynical manipulation” when they used a black college student as a front to win city cable contracts that were meant to go to minority-owned businesses, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Sentencing Potter, 67, of Versailles, Ky., to four-and-a-half years behind bars and Giovenco, 43, of Grayslake, to three years behind bars, Pallmeyer said they had illegally undermined the city’s efforts to give “more people an opportunity to participate in its economic life.”

Evidence at a trial earlier this year showed that Potter and Giovenco hired a black student, Jerone Mayes, and his mom, Cherrone Mayes, to pose as the bosses of their business, ICS Cable. They then secured subcontracts worth $8 million from RCN Cable, which was required by the city to give business to women or minority owned contractors.

Prosecutors said Mayes made only $17,000 from the scam, while Potter made $1.3 million and Giovenco made $800,000.

At a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Potter apologized and pleaded for probation. He appeared to misquote President Barack Obama, who he told the judge had described America as a “nation of second chances” — a line more commonly attributed to President George W. Bush.

Giovenco also apologized, telling the judge he was ashamed he didn’t do more to make Mayes a legitimate part of the business.

As part of their sentence, the defendants will have to pay the $217,000 legal fees of RCN, which was “rocked to it’s core” by the scam, its attorney Jeremy Margolis said Tuesday.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)