Target 8: HARC ex-CEO Lilliston in federal court facing criminal charge

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A federal prosecutor is ready to unveil his conspiracy case involving the former CEO of the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens, or HARC.

Richard Lilliston is accused of diverting clients’ money, then lying to the government to hide it.

The trial comes nearly five years after a Target 8 investigation exposing Lilliston’s involvement in the scheme as well as others.

Most of the accused admit they diverted clients’ money and lied to the government about it.

All except Lilliston.

Lilliston once charmed television cameras.  Outside the federal courthouse, he did his best to avoid ours.

We asked Lilliston what the chance was that he would change his plea.  No answer.

The feds charged Lilliston with conspiracy to defraud the Social Security Administration. He has entered a not guilty plea.

According to a grand jury indictment, Lilliston and former CFOs Frank Pannullo, Marsha Weiss, and former HARC employee Sandra Shepherd drew up paperwork, opened accounts to move Social Security benefits from clients like Vicki Caldwell, then moved their money into HARC’s accounts.  Documents to move the money were drawn up in 2009.  Target 8 found evidence they were back dated to 2007.

Pannullo, Weiss and Shepherd all entered guilty pleas. But, not Lilliston.

We asked if he was denying participating in signing and backdating the agreements. No answer.

The indictment accuses Lilliston and the others of moving more than $10,000 dollars from Vicki Caldwell’s account, alone.  Social Security benefits were to be used for clothing, medical and dental expenses, recreation and other personal items,.  Caldwell’s money and that of dozens of other clients were moved into HARC’s account where it could be used for what Lilliston and Pannullo wanted.

We asked Lilliston what happened to the $10,000 that was taken from Vicki Caldwell’s account. No answer.

Our investigation confirmed some of the clients’ money helped pay for $1,800 a month car allowances that Lilliston and Pannullo paid themselves.

When asked if he regretted taking the car allowance money, Lilliston again refused to answer.

A jury of 11 women and three men was sworn in Monday.

Tomorrow, federal prosecutor Jay Trezevant begins presenting the government’s case.

If you have something that you think should be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

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