An Oklahoma man who once owned a business that provided services to companies in the energy sector has been sentenced to 121 months in a federal prison for bilking his clients out of more than $4 million. After hearing testimony and arguments for six days in late January and early February 2019, a federal jury found the 43-year-old Sulphur resident guilty of money laundering, aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.
During the fraud trial, U.S. attorneys told the jury that the man used knowledge of energy business invoicing procedures that he acquired while working as a production foreman to bill his clients for services that were never ordered or provided. Prosecutors say that the man sent out more than 1,100 fake invoices between October 2011 and July 2014. To help ensure that the fraudulent invoices would be paid, the man affixed forged or pasted signatures of authorized production personnel.
The man took steps to avoid discovery that included accusing two of his senior managers of fraud. Prosecutors also believe that he arranged for his offices to be burgled when he learned that law enforcement was closing in. The sentencing judge told the man that these efforts to stymie investigators and shift blame onto others influenced his decision. In addition to serving his custodial sentence, the man will be required to make restitution in the amount of $2.6 million.
The sentences handed down by federal judges are often quite severe, and there is no parole in the federal corrections system. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may pursue plea agreements in federal cases involving white-collar crimes. The evidence in fraud and embezzlement cases usually consists of documents and ledgers that tell a compelling story, but U.S. attorneys could still agree to offer significant sentencing concessions in return for speedy and successful outcome.