Friday, November 7, 2014

California Man Charged With Embezzling $300K In Vendor Fraud Scheme

From the Associated Press on 11/6/2014:

A former Fresno business executive has been charged with embezzling nearly $300K from a local business.

Anthony Lester, 51, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of mail fraud and money laundering. Lester was the former controller at Century Builders in Fresno, and later chief financial officer. During his employment, he also had access to the financial accounts of another Fresno business, Highlands Energy Services.

Lester is accused of diverting money from bank accounts and credit cards held by Highlands Energy Services into other financial accounts, including his own PayPal account, according to the U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

He is accused of embezzling about $300,000 from Highlands Energy Services.

According to the indictment, employees of the two companies questioned Lester about suspect payments to some vendors, including one called American Products, which was later found to be a fake company Lester invented to conceal the embezzlement, according to Wagner.

In fact, Lester attempted to make it appear American Products was a real company, according to Wagner, first visiting a local supply company near Fresno claiming to be from "Valley Builders," another fictitious company. Then he purchased weather stripping, dead bolts, spring hinges and thresholds, packaging the goods for delivery to Hilghlands and labeling them as coming from American Products in New York.

Lester is accused of sending the goods from a Fresno UPS facility.

The mail fraud charge could carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
The money laundering charge could carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, the larger of a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved and three years of supervised release.

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