BOSTON – The former co-owners of a Palmer equipment company pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Springfield to conspiracy and wire fraud.
Aaron Peabody, 42, of Houlton, Maine, and Gary Como, 49, of Warren, Mass., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud.
Between 2006 and 2010, Como and Peabody were co-owners of New England Equipment Company (NEECO, Inc.). During that time, Como and Peabody engaged in a long running scheme that was perpetrated in a variety of ways, resulting in losses of more than $1 million. Their schemes included obtaining fake loans using the names of NEECO's customers and by selling rented or leased wood chipping machines equipment that they did not own and selling them to customers. Como and Peabody also engaged in check-kiting through a rapid series of deposits and withdrawals between two banks, giving the impression that NEECO had more money that it did. When one of the banks stopped honoring NEECO’s checks, the other bank had lost more than $138,000.
Furthermore, the men obtained money in other ways, including by taking wood chipping equipment on consignment from NEECO’s customers and falsely promising to pay back the customer’s loan on the equipment once the machine sold. After the machine was sold on consignment, they kept the sale proceeds and left the customer liable for the loan.
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor scheduled sentencing for April 10, 2014. Como and Peabody face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on each count of wire fraud.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Chief Robert P. Frydryk of the Palmer Police Department, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex J. Grant of Ortiz's Springfield Branch Unit.