Trucking Company Manager and Co-conspirator Plead Guilty in Scheme to Steal over $326,000
Submitted Over 1,400 Fraudulent Invoices for Truck Repairs
Baltimore, Maryland - Clyde Leroy Lewis, Jr., a/k/a J.R. Lewis, age 43, of Prattsburgh, New York, and Christopher Paul Windsor, age 55, of League City, Texas, pleaded guilty today to mail fraud and tax charges related to a scheme to embezzle more than $326,000 from Lewis’ employer.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service -Washington Division; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“The public relies on the Postal Inspection Service to protect the U.S. Mail from illegal activity,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel S. Cortez. ““This case demonstrates Postal Inspectors’ commitment to thwart criminals that use the U.S. Mail in furtherance of their schemes.”
According to their plea agreements, Lewis was the operations manager for Home Run, Inc., an interstate freight hauler based in Xenia, Ohio, with an office in Thurmont, Maryland and a repair shop and garage located in Lewistown, Maryland. Lewis was based in Maryland and his duties included managing Home Run’s East Coast operations. In May 2004, Home Run purchased trailers from Transportation Specialty’s Inc. (TSI), a company owned by Windsor. Lewis participated in these purchases with Windsor on behalf of Home Run.
Beginning in early 2006, Lewis and Windsor formed a conspiracy to defraud Home Run through the submission of fraudulent TSI invoices. Windsor created false TSI invoices for repairs purportedly done by TSI on Home Run’s trailers. By this time, TSI existed in name only, did not have employees to do such work, and Windsor was not even in Maryland, but lived in Texas during most of this time. Moreover, Home Run had employees and contractors whose duty it was to maintain its trucks and trailers. Lewis admitted that he used his position as Home Run’s operations manager to authorize the false TSI invoices for payment. The invoices listed TSI’s mailing address as a post office box in Thurmont that Lewis had rented. Lewis retrieved the payments that Home Run mailed to the post office box listed as TSI’s address and delivered them to Windsor, who, after depositing the payments into TSI’s corporate account, transferred the funds to his personal bank account and wrote a check to Lewis for about 60% of the funds fraudulently secured from Home Run, keeping about 40% for himself.
The scheme continued until at least July 2008, when Home Run discovered the theft. Home Run fired Lewis in October 2008. Further investigation determined that between March 2006 and July 2008 Lewis authorized and submitted over 1,400 false invoices for payment, ranging from less than $250 to over $3,500, and totaling over $325,000 in losses to Home Run.
Lewis earned additional illicit income during this time by charging rent to a mechanic who worked out of Home Run’s Lewistown, Maryland facility. Lewis never reported the rent payments to Home Run and instead deposited them directly into his personal bank account. Lewis failed to report either of these sources of income to the tax preparer whom he aided and assisted in the preparation of his personal tax returns for tax years 2006, 2007, and 2008. The total tax loss suffered by the Internal Revenue Service as a result of Lewis’s actions was at least $54,491.00.
“No matter what the source of income, all income is taxable,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Jeannine Hammett. “The prosecution of individuals who intentionally conceal income and evade taxes is a vital element of the IRS' enforcement strategy.”
Lewis also admitted that he obstructed a grand jury investigation. On May 18, 2010, after being notified of the investigation, Lewis falsely advised investigators that the money he received from Windsor was commission for independent consulting work Lewis performed for TSI. Lewis also told investigators that he never received money from the mechanic who worked out of Home Run’s Lewistown garage, when in fact he charged the mechanic substantial rent, and personally profited from these payments.
Lewis and Windsor face a maximum of 20 years in prison for the mail fraud conspiracy. Lewis also faces a maximum of three years in prison for aiding in the preparation of false tax returns. As part of his plea agreement, Lewis is required to pay restitution of $381,361.68 and to forfeit at least $326,870.68. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for Lewis on February 8, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. and for Windsor on February 7, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS - Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Sujit Raman, who is prosecuting the case.