San Diego Man Pleads Guilty To Defrauding The United Auburn Indian Community
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Bart Wayne Volen, 54, of San Diego and Haiku, Hawaii, pleaded guilty today to conspiring commit mail and wire fraud, conspiring to launder monetary instruments, and filing a false tax return, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
In pleading guilty, Volen admitted to defrauding the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) of more than $17 million dollars. The UAIC is a federally recognized Native American tribe consisting mostly of Miwok and Maidu Indians indigenous to the Sacramento Valley region. The UAIC is located at the historic Auburn Rancheria in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Auburn. In pleading guilty, Volen agreed to a restitution order requiring that he and any co-defendants who are convicted to pay at least $17 million to their victims, which include both the UAIC and the Internal Revenue Service.
According to his plea agreement, Volen was hired as a developer by the UAIC in October of 2006 to finish construction on four tribal buildings — a school, a community center, and two administrative offices — on UAIC property on Indian Hills Road in Auburn. Between October 2006, and November 2007, Volen regularly submitted false and inflated invoices to the UAIC for work purportedly done on the tribal construction projects. In many instances, these invoices were based upon cost proposals from Volen’s subcontractor that he caused to be inflated. In other instances, Volen submitted false change order invoices for work that was never performed. Volen admitted making payments to co-conspirators employed by the UAIC to ensure that his fraudulent invoices were approved and paid.
With regard to the tax offense, according to court documents, Volen filed tax returns that contained a Schedule C in which Volen falsely claimed business loss deductions to which he was not entitled. As a result, the United States suffered a tax loss of between $2.5 million and $7 million.
“Utilizing insiders and an extensive trail of false documents to back up his scheme, Bart Volen managed to steal an incredibly large amount of money from a community that plays a very special role in our district,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “My office, our colleagues at the IRS, and all of our law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice those who would commit crimes against our tribal communities.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Michael M. Beckwith is prosecuting the case.
Also named in the indictment with Volen are UAIC employees Greg Scott Baker, 46, of Newcastle; and Darrell Patrick Hinz, 48, of Cameron Park. Baker and Hinz are scheduled for trial in Sacramento on October 20, 2014. The charges against them are only allegations; they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Volen is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley on December 4, 2014. Volen faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or twice the value of the gross gain or loss, and a three-year term of supervised release for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiring to launder monetary instruments is 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the laundered money, and a three-year term of supervised release. The maximum statutory penalty for the tax violation is three years in prison, a $100,000 fine, or a fine of twice the value of the gross gain or loss, and a one-year term of supervised release. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.