William Szudera Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on June 3, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, WILLIAM SZUDERA, a 76-year-old resident of Havre, pled guilty to mail fraud. Sentencing has been set for September 26, 2013. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad C. Spraker, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
From 2001 to 2012, SZUDERA collected workers compensation benefit payments based on his annual representations to the Department of Labor that he was not working and earned no income.
In fact, beginning in1977, SZUDERA was operating a shooting supply business, which made him ineligible for approximately $277,484 in benefits he received from 2001 through 2012.
From 1970 to 1978 SZUDERA was employed by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Western Area Power Administration, which was absorbed into the Bureau of Reclamation in 1977. SZUDERA was injured on the job in 1970. He returned to work in 1971 and received compensation for a partial disability.
In 1984, SZUDERA was added to the Department of Labor's permanent rolls and started receiving workers compensation checks for his wage loss due to his injury. In 1992, the Department of Labor adjusted SZUDERA's compensation after determining that he was able to earn a limited wage. Under that status, SZUDERA collected workers compensation payments based on the limited wage earning capacity of a cashier. In fact, SZUDERA owned and operated a shooting supply business, B&G Shooting Supply since at least 2000.
In a May 2000 application for a Wells Fargo credit card, SZUDERA stated under the job information section that he is self-employed as an owner of a business with a gross monthly salary of $12,500. SZUDERA's tax returns from 2002 to 2010 show that B&G Shooting had gross receipts ranging from approximately $500,000 to $750,000. The returns indicate a profit for every year with the exception of 2006.
Nevertheless, from 2002 to 2011, SZUDERA filled out annual certifications stating that he was unemployed and did not receive any outside income. The annual certifications asked SZUDERA to report all self-employment or involvement in business enterprises, including a family business, even if the activity was part-time or intermittent. Moreover, the certifications asked SZUDERA to report any work or ownership interest in a business enterprise even if the business lost money.
Agents of the Department of Energy interviewed SZUDERA in October 2011. SZUDERA stated that he knew he had to report any additional income he received each year on the annual certification. When asked whether he knowingly received income yet did not report it on the annual certification, SZUDERA answered "yes." SZUDERA's inflated workers compensation benefit checks were mailed from the U.S. Treasury to SZUDERA's home in Havre.
SZUDERA faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General.