North Carolina Man Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding Employer's Charity Matching Gift Program
The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that STEVEN KENT STRANGE, 51, of Bailey, North Carolina, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 57 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for defrauding his former employer’s charity matching gift program of nearly $600,000, and for submitting three fraudulent letters to the court in an effort to influence his sentencing
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.
Judge Shea ordered Strange to pay $591,877 in restitution.
On June 22, 2020, Strange pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. While awaiting sentencing, Strange fabricated and submitted to Judge Shea letters purportedly from his employer, who claimed that Strange was essential to an ongoing business; his doctor, who suggested that Strange needed to maintain his medical providers to treat various ailments; and a friend, who attested to Strange’s good character and ongoing devotion to his wife.
Strange, who is released on bond, is requited to report to prison on December 20.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher W. Schmeisser.