Before he moved to Florida, David Young was an American hero: A Green Beret, a Gulf War vet and a Bronze Star recipient. The vet was once among the nation's youngest state legislators after winning a seat in his native New Hampshire's state House at the age of 21. Two years ago, when he relocated the Gulf Coast, he seemed to be a wealthy entrepreneur with lucrative overseas defense contracts.
But federal prosecutors now say Young was stealing from taxpayers to the tune of $54 million in phony deals with the military.
Young hasn't been charged with a crime yet, but the Tampa Bay Times this morning has uncovered previously secret court documents showing that prosecutors have sued him to seize more than 20 properties and $15 million they say came from the scheme.
Young's attorney, Brett Tolman, tells the Times the veteran is innocent. "He couldn't have orchestrated what they're alleging," Tolman tells the paper. "If there's fraud, it's fraud we're not part of."
If the charges are true, Young will join the pantheon of South Florida scammers thanks to alleged scope of his fraud -- and his illustrious past.
Young was first elected to the New Hampshire house in 1985, shortly after his 21st birthday. He served until 1993, earning a place in the Army's Green Berets and serving in combat in the first Gulf War in between. He also earned a law degree and briefly returned to politics, serving another term from 1999 to 2000.
But more recently, Young's fortunes have changed. He was disbarred in 2006, the Times reports, for misusing a clients money, and convicted of a court-martial in 2008 for stealing Humvees in Afghanistan.
The records obtained by the Times paint the picture of an elaborate fraud orchestrated by Young around a contract to provide military trainers and interpreters in Afghanistan.
Prosecutors say Young conspired with several active duty soldiers to rig a bidding process for his firm, American International Security Corp, then to inflate a small contract into a $54 million behemoth.
The company barely provided any services in Afghanistan, though, the feds allege; instead, Young and his cohorts pocketed millions and bought scores of properties around Tampa.
It's not clear when the feds will seize Young's property or if criminal charges are forthcoming; Tolman, Young's attorney, believes it's only a matter of time.
"We don't think there's a basis to prosecute, but I think in some ways they've built a theory and they're trying to support it," he said. "If that's the case, I'm sure they will pursue charges."
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