Just a few days after U.S. District Judge Ronald Clark rejected the plea agreement of former Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald, the plea agreement for Fitzgerald’s brother-in-law, Mark Miksch, was rejected by Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin.

Fitzgerald, Miksch and former Pct. 2 Commissioner Lee Groce were indicted on federal charges in January 2011 for FEMA-related fraud.

 

According to the indictment, after Hurricane Ike made landfall on Sept. 13, 2008, Fitzgerald, as county judge, and Herman Lee Groce, in his former position as Pct. 2 commissioner, used their elected positions to fraudulently influence and award debris removal contracts to a company in return for subcontracts being awarded to Miksch.

As part of the scheme, Fitzgerald is alleged to have received “approximately $611,000 in kickbacks disguised as legitimate business transactions.”

The rejection of Fitzgerald’s plea agreement took place on March 16; his trial is set for April 19 unless another plea agreement is reached by the April 5 deadline. In the original voluntary plea agreement, Fitzgerald admitted to making false and fraudulent claims for FEMA reimbursements for fuel used to power a generator that was portrayed to the government as being used for Liberty County when it reportedly was being used for other purposes.

Giblin rejected Miksch’s deal on March 20 and offered him an opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea for not filing federal tax returns. Miksch did not accept Giblin’s offer.

“The necessary steps will be taken by the court according to the defendant’s decision,” the court documents state. At this time, a sentencing date has not been made public. In the meantime, Miksch remains on bond.