UPDATE: Rockford's former Energy Director, 58-year-old Mark Bixby of Rockton has pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.
Bixby admitted that between December 2006 and March 2010 he defrauded a heating contractor and window contractor both of whom worked for the city's energy division out of about $50,000.
The Feds say that between December of 2006 and March of 2010, Bixby underpaid two contractors by about $50,000 and used that money to buy himself a convertible and to pay off bills. They also say that Bixby accepted bribes from the two contractors and extorted the heating contractor out of close to $3,000.
Bixby was originally charged with two counts of mail fraud, two counts of bribery, two counts of extortion, and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
Bixby is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. Mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 , or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the gain derived the offense, whichever is greater, and restitution.
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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- There are new developments in the case against Rockford’s former Energy Director accused of abusing his power. Today he plead not guilty to federal charges of fraud, bribery, extortion and lying to the FBI. So why is he packing his bags for a tropical vacation? 23 News reporter Meghan Dwyer was in court this morning and is live at the federal courthouse with more on this disturbing story.
57-year-old Mark Bixby showed up to court today with a public defender, because he says he can't afford to hire a private lawyer, but then he asked the judge if he could go on vacation with his wife to Cancun, and believe it or not the judge said "yes."
Bixby is accused of accepting bribes and using money he extorted from city vendors to buy things like this convertible. He also allegedly pocketed donations he promised would be donated to a charity to help disabled children. Prosecutors say they have more than 4,000 pages of evidence against him. Bixby will head to Mexico at the end of the week and he'll have to surrender his passport when he gets back in mid-February.
“This man was in position of authority. and he was in control of taxpayer money. I'm personally offended he acted improperly while in his role of energy director. I’m personally offended as a taxpayer that we continue to cover the cost of his pension,” said Michael Shalbrack.
The other side of this story is that Mark Bixby owes more than $300,000 to his mother, who is nearly 100 years old and lives in a local nursing home. In a separate case, a judge has found that Bixby stole money from his mother and stopped taking care of her. A lot of her caretakers were in the courtroom today.
Bixby’s attorney, who also represented Dixon’s ex-comptroller Rita Crundwell, told the judge the trip was booked two years ago and was already paid for. If Bixby’s financial statements are inaccurate, the judge could make him pay for his public defender.