News and Press Releases

Leader Of Check Kiting Scheme Sentenced To More Than Five Years

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 15, 2014

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell today sentenced Johnathan Bergren (41, Tampa) to five years and three months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. As part of his sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $309,581.75, which constitutes the proceeds of the offense.

Bergren pleaded guilty on March 27, 2014.

According to court documents, between September 2012 and December 2013, Bergren and others engaged in a conspiracy to defraud banks, primarily Bank of America and SunTrust. Bergren established shell companies and then opened or had others open more than 20 business checking accounts in those companies’ names.  Bergren and others working with him deposited checks drawn on various accounts into other newly established accounts at other financial institutions. Bergren then withdrew funds prior to the checks clearing the banks. Each of the deposited checks was ultimately returned for insufficient funds. Despite this, Bergren had already transferred or withdrawn the funds immediately made available to the accounts under his control. 

In August 2013, after being arrested and released on bond for his participation in this conspiracy, Bergren continued to commit this same check kiting scheme with other individuals he recruited. The scheme caused an additional $30,000 in losses to Bank of America.

Bergren, and co-conspirators acting at his direction, deposited approximately $577,155.16 in fraudulent checks, which were drawn on unfunded business accounts that he established. As a result, they were able to fraudulently obtain over $300,000 from at least three different federally insured financial institutions.

This case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.

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