Brodhead Man Sentenced for Wire Fraud
Madison, Wis. - John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Michael W. Booth, 42, Brodhead, Wis., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William C. Conley to 15 months in prison for wire fraud. Booth was ordered to pay approximately $196,000 in restitution to the victim company. Booth pleaded guilty to this charge on November 13, 2012.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service, to provide grants for the purpose of providing satellite broadband internet service to rural areas that had no existing broadband service. Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes), a satellite broadband service provider, was awarded a $50 million grant under the Recovery Act. Hughes contracted with distributors to market the service and the distributors subcontracted with dealers who dealt directly with customers and arranged for installation of the necessary equipment.
Booth, a subcontractor, owned the Satellite Store LLC located in Monroe, Wis., and provided internet services to rural Wisconsin residents. In June 2011, Hughes noticed an large number of customers signed up for services by the Satellite Store had not made payments after installation of internet services. A subsequent investigation revealed that the defendant created 273 fictitious customers and falsely represented that the customers had agreed to payment terms pursuant to debit cards. The defendant caused Hughes to pay him a commission and installation fee of $245 to $400 for each installation. Ultimately, the defendant's conduct caused a total loss of approximately $196,000 to Hughes.
The charges against Booth were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of the case has been handled by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen P. Sinnott.
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