North Carolina Man Admits Defrauding Employer's Charity Matching Gift Program
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that STEVEN KENT STRANGE, 50, of Bailey, North Carolina, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud related to his defrauding his former employer’s charity matching gift program of nearly $600,000.
Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the court proceeding occurred via videoconference.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Strange was employed by Collins Aerospace in North Carolina, which, at the time, was a business unit of United Technologies Corporation (“UTC”), based in Farmington, Connecticut. UTC had a Matching Gift Program, through which the company matched an employee donation, up to $25,000 annually, to a charity. In 2008, Strange established the Housing Development Foundation of North Carolina, Inc. (“the Housing Development Foundation”), and listed his residence at the principal office for the charity. Strange began working for Collins Aerospace in 2014.
Between approximately 2015 and September 2019, Strange defrauded UTC’s Matching Gift Program by submitting to UTC fraudulent records of donations purportedly made by him and by certain employees that worked with him at Collins Aerospace. The records included fabricated cashiers checks of payments supposedly made to the Housing Development Foundation, when no such payments had been made. As a result, UTC transferred approximately $585,000 in matching funds to the Housing Development Foundation, and an additional $5,257 to third party vendors to process the requests. A review of the Housing Development Foundation’s bank records reveal that a large portion of the Foundation’s expenditures appears to be Strange’s personal expenditures.
Strange is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford on September, 14, 2020, at which time Strange faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a maximum fine of more than $1.1 million, and restitution of $591,877.
Strange is released on bond pending sentencing.
This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher W. Schmeisser.