Florida politicians, contractor bilked Hurricane Michael cleanup money

PANAMA CITY — GAC Contractors, a local company whose top executives include former House Speaker Allan Bense, bilked “millions of dollars” from local governments in 2018 when it was contracted to clean up debris caused by Hurricane Michael, newly released court documents from an ongoing federal investigation show.

The company’s top executives, including Bense and its late CEO Derwin White, commanded its crews to visit work sites with equipment but not perform any work, and then billed Bay County, the school district and other government municipalities, federal investigators allege in an affidavit filed with a search warrant carried out last year at the company’s headquarters.

Federal law enforcement authorities, in the affidavit, said that Bense and White ordered GAC’s workers to clean up their own homes or properties and that of other top public officials, including state Sen. George Gainer, Lynn Haven City Attorney Adam Albritton’s house and Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt, among others.

Bense is not charged in connection with the federal investigation of GAC Contractors. White has since died. Bense, who was the company’s managing partner, is the company’s chairman.

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Bense did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. 

The allegations against GAC Contractors surfaced in the affidavit that was unsealed Monday in federal court. The affidavit was written by FBI agent Lawrence Borghini. The search warrant was executed Aug. 5, 2021, court records show.