David Young — a former lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve who in Hernando County threw lavish political fundraisers, was known to neighbors as a war hero and bought more than a dozen homes — has pleaded guilty to a pair of federal charges and has agreed to serve between three and four years in prison.
As part of the deal, he also agreed to forfeit the fortune and assets he acquired in his scheme to defraud the U.S. military: more than $1.6 million cash, 15 properties on the North Suncoast, one in New Hampshire, a 1999 Jaguar and 400 1-ounce gold coins that at current prices would be valued at about $500,000.
Young, 50, pleaded guilty to disclosure of procurement information and money laundering and is scheduled for sentencing in March. His trial was set to begin in January in Utah, where federal prosecutors have handled the case. If he had been convicted on both charges, Young could have faced up to 25 years in prison.
The Tampa Bay Times has written extensively about Young since 2011, detailing the former Green Beret's sordid past: While practicing law in New Hampshire (where Young had also served as a state representative), he was disbarred in 2006 for misusing a client's money; two years later, he was convicted in a military court-martial of taking two Navy Humvees in Afghanistan; after moving to Hernando, Young operated three businesses that were used primarily to launder money.
The Times interviewed dozens of Young's friends, clients and business associates. Five people listed as executives or key staff members of his firms said at the time that they did almost no work and made, at most, about $1,000.
In multiple interviews last year, Young vehemently denied the accusations.
"I was raised right by my parents," he said at the time. "I knew right from wrong."
He did not return a voicemail Friday afternoon.
As part of the agreement, Young contradicted those assertions and admitted to his part in the scheme:
In 2007, the Army solicited bids for a contract to train Afghan security forces. At the time, Young was in Afghanistan working with those forces, and he was instrumental in developing the deal.
A friend of his owned American International Security Corp. To ensure that it won the bid, Young divulged confidential information to American International, including the government's price estimate and details of the competitor's bid.
In the plea deal, Young admitted that someone affiliated with the company sent "a wire transfer of $196,868.88 to my associate for my benefit. The funds related to the wire transfer were derived from a specified unlawful activity, that is wire fraud."
Long ago, Young seemed destined for enormous success.
At 21, he became one of New Hampshire's youngest state legislators. He later helped lead John McCain's statewide presidential campaign and attended both Bushes' inaugurations. On a visit to South Africa in 1988, he held the hand of Mother Teresa.
Back then, many in New Hampshire thought he would one day become governor or a U.S. senator.
After the disbarment and court-martial and other troubles, Florida seemed to offer him a fresh start.
But on the morning of Sept. 7, 2011, that all came apart as his stunned neighbors watched federal agents show up at his 5,197-square-foot home with bulletproof vests and guns and a pry bar.
Times photographer Will Vragovic contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at [email protected]