Part Owner of Laurel Construction Company Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Embezzling over $1.7 Million

Funds Stolen from Company Used to Buy an Interest in a Restaurant
and the Baltimore Mariners Football Team

January 3, 2011

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Dwayne Wells, age 50, of Potomac, Maryland today to 15 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud in connection with his leadership role in a scheme to embezzle money from a mechanical engineering firm which he partly owned. Judge Messitte also entered an order requiring Wells to pay restitution of $1,761,338.23, the amount he stole from the company, and to liquidate his ownership interest in “The Nest” restaurant and the Baltimore Mariners football team.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to Wells’ plea agreement, in 2006, Wells, Charles Fash and another partner purchased a mechanical engineering firm called Ryco Associates, based in Laurel, Maryland. Although the partner had provided the cash funding for the purchase of the company, Wells and Fash ran the company on a daily basis. In 2008, Wells and Fash began loaning Ryco funds to the owner of “The Nest,” a sports bar/restaurant in Baltimore, without notifying their partner. When the bar’s owner began repaying the loan, Wells and Fash kept the proceeds rather than putting them back into Ryco’s accounts. Wells and Fash loaned additional Ryco funds to the bar owner. When the sports bar owner could no longer pay back the loan, Wells and Fash agreed to become part-owners of the sports bar in lieu of repayment of the loan from Ryco.

Wells and Fash admitted that they also incurred thousands of dollars in expenses for the Baltimore Mariners, a professional indoor football team, on their company issued credit cards and fraudulently used Ryco funds to pay those expenses. Wells and Fash later acquired an equity interest in the Baltimore Mariners using Ryco funds, without their Ryco partner’s knowledge. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses Wells incurred on his Ryco-issued credit card, Wells fraudulently authorized over $1 million in payments using Ryco funds for personal purposes, including the sports bar and football team.

The total amount embezzled as a result of the fraud scheme was $1,761,338.23.

Charles K. Fash, age 52, of Rockville, Maryland pleaded guilty to his participation in the scheme and was sentenced to probation with three months home confinement. Fash was also ordered to pay $29,961.31, the amount he stole from the company, and liquidate his ownership interest in “The Nest” restaurant and the Baltimore Mariners football team.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigative work and thanked Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan C. Su, who prosecuted the case.

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