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'Ghost workers' federally indicted for fraudulent work at Port of Tampa, per US District Court

Posted at 5:03 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 17:35:00-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Several people who claimed to do work for Ceres Marine Terminals, Inc., the company that provided cruise stevedoring and terminal management and operations for the Port of Tampa, have been federally indicted.

The indictment listed them as “Ghost Worker Conspirators” because, according to the United States District Court, they never actually did any of the work they claimed to do from 2013-2017.

Ceres hired members of the Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1402 to perform work.

The indictment said Michael Ruff, who was the operations manager for Ceres, recruited 5 co-conspirators, Felix Santoyo, Felicha Santoyo, Jose Trujillo, Michelle Clas and Stephanie Telesmanick, to defraud Ceres.

It said Ruff submitted spreadsheets and other documents that showed they had performed longshoreman duties and then cashed in on the payroll checks they’d receive for the fictitious work.

They’re being charged with wire and mail fraud.

The Indictment said the “ghost workers” took about $113,000 during that time. If convicted, they will have to give it back.