6 charged in ‘ghost worker’ plot at Port Tampa Bay

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new federal indictment names six people in a plan to defraud for work they claimed to do at Port Tampa Bay, but never actually performed.

The indictment calls the six “ghost worker conspirators” and claims they billed thousands of hours for work, but never set foot on the docks.

A 2017 investigation by 8 On Your Side showed Tampa resident Jerry Reyes was one of the ghost workers, claiming to do work and collecting a paycheck for dock work he never performed. Reyes initially denied anything about it but eventually admitted he had been a part of the plan.

The federal indictment names Michael Ruff, who had been an operations supervisor for Ceres Marine Terminals. Ceres uses longshoremen union workers in Tampa to load and off load ships.

Felix Santoyo and his sister Felicha Santoyo, Jose Trujillo, Michelle Clas and Stephanie Telesmanick are also named in the indictment for calming to do work they never performed.

Union members say they lost pay, seniority and benefits because they couldn’t work the hours the “ghost workers” were claiming and being paid for. Legitimate union members said they also had to work harder to make up for the work that wasn’t being done.

The indictment alleges the falsification of records began in 2013 and lasted until 2017.

Union member Danny Riley says he and others lost pay because of this and he doesn’t believe the investigation is over.

“I am inclined to believe there are more players involved than have been indicted right now,” Riley said. “This is far from being over, there is more to be revealed.”

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