HOUSTON - To some, pay phones are a relic of the past; a push button reminder of a bygone era.
To federal prosecutors in Houston, hundreds of pay phones were used to manipulate a system involving toll-free numbers.
Court records show a Friendswood man, David Grudzinski, owned a company with 450 pay phones in Houston, Friendswood, League City, Tomball, Dayton, Lake Jackson and Freeport.
The federal government accuses Grudzinski of fraudulently making money off something called dial around compensation, a program regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.
According to a final rule published in the Federal Register in 2004, the FCC approved a fee of 49 cents to be paid to the owners of pay phones for every completed toll-free call made from their phones.
Court records read Grudzinski is accused of using a "polling" computer "to program his pay phones to robotically place repeated telephone calls to toll-free phone numbers, for the purpose of fraudulently acquiring the dial around compensation fee for each phone call."
Court documents state this went on from 2005 through July 2015 and Grudzinski is accused of raking in $1,848,754.
Prosecutors wrote many of the toll-free calls were made to federal and state agencies like the IRS or Texas’ Lonestar help desk.
KPRC tried to speak with Grudzinski at his home, but there was no answer. His attorney, Dan Cogdell, told KPRC the case would be resolved in the courtroom and he would have no further comment.
Court records show Grudzinski pleaded not guilty to the charges, waived his right to proceed under an indictment and is scheduled to go on trial in October.
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