FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC at 410-209-4885
APRIL 20, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SALESMAN OF COLLEGE AND HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOKS
INDICTED IN FRAUD SCHEME
Misrepresented Cost of Yearbooks Sold to U.S. Naval Academy,
George Washington University, Howard University and Others
BALTIMORE, Maryland - A federal grand jury indicted Joseph M. Wenzl, age 39, of Monkton, Maryland, today for wire and mail fraud in connection with the purchase of school yearbooks by Maryland and Washington D.C. high schools and colleges, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein announced.
According to the 15-count indictment, Taylor Publishing Company (Taylor), headquartered in Dallas, Texas, used sales representatives to solicit contracts from high schools and colleges to publish yearbooks printed by Taylor. The sales representatives were paid commissions on their sales. Taylor dealt directly with the client school to send invoices and bills, and receive payments. Sales representatives had no role in either sending invoices to, or collecting any funds from, the client school. In response to the invoice mailed by Taylor from Texas, the school customer forwarded a check to a post office box maintained by Chase Bank for the benefit of Taylor. The bank credited Taylor’s account and the accounts receivable department at Taylor noted the payment to the customer’s invoice account.
The indictment alleges that Wenzl was the regional sales representative for Taylor in an area that covered Maryland and the District of Columbia. Wenzl’s duties as a sales representative were outlined in a contract that provided in part, “Representatives shall not collect money from customers to whom year books are sold, rather shall direct customer to remit payment directly to the company.”
The indictment alleges that from October 1998 through January 2003, Taylor devised a scheme to defraud Taylor of money and its right to the honest services of Wenzl’s duties. Wenzl is alleged to have fraudulently induced Taylor to agree to highly discounted contract prices for the production of yearbooks by citing, among other reasons, competitive market pressure from other yearbook publishers. Wenzl allegedly misrepresented the actual cost of the yearbooks to school customers, including George Washington University, the United States Naval Academy, Howard University, Edmund Burke School in Washington, D.C. and Fairmount Heights High School located in Prince George’s County, Maryland, who never saw the lower prices Taylor had set for the yearbooks. Wenzl allegedly created and sent to the schools fraudulent invoices on Taylor letterhead that reflected the higher prices. Wenzl directed the school customers to send their payments to Campus Creations, Inc., an entity controlled by Wenzl, in Towson, Maryland instead of to Taylor in Texas.
Wenzl caused the schools to mail checks in the higher amounts stated on the fraudulent invoices to Campus Creations. After depositing the checks from the schools into a Campus Creations bank account he controlled, Wenzl mailed checks to Taylor that matched the discounted price on the Taylor invoice.
By keeping the difference between the Taylor invoices and the higher invoices he fraudulently sent to 27 school customers, Wenzl retained over $700,000 that he failed to remit to Taylor.
Wenzl faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for each mail and wire fraud count. Wenzl’s initial appearance in U.S. District Court has not yet been scheduled.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Schenning and John Sippel, who are prosecuting the case.
This page last modifiedApril 21, 2006