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Caltrans Contractor Sentenced For Fraud, Will Forfeit Yoda

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Yoda (credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Yoda (credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — A printing contractor was sentenced to nine years in prison for defrauding the California Department of Transportation of nearly $1.9 million, part of which he spent on Star Wars memorabilia that included a life-size Yoda, state prosecutors announced Friday.

Eric Hodgson, 43, of Elk Grove pleaded guilty Thursday in Sacramento County Court to seven of 22 counts of grand theft. Under a plea deal, he will forfeit two homes, two cars, retirement savings and his $10,000 Star Wars collection as part of his restitution.

Along with the 3-foot-tall Yoda statue, the memorabilia includes two light sabers and a model of the Millennium Falcon.

According to the state attorney general’s office, Caltrans hired his company, Phenix Print & Image, to advertise new construction contracts to potential bidders but discovered Hodgson used fake invoices for print advertisements that were never published in local newspapers as promised.

Phenix was awarded two print advertising contracts in 2008 and 2009 that totaled more than $1.8 million. A third contract awarded to Phenix in 2011 for more than $800,000 was canceled before any money was paid.

An investigation by the California Department of Justice determined money was used to pay off a mortgage, make purchases of toys and comics, and fund exotic trips for him and his company staff.

Hodgson was arrested in April. He did not immediately return a telephone message left at Phenix.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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