St. Louis Area Man Indicted on Fraud and Money Laundering Charges
St. Louis, MO – Adam Bernaix of St. Louis, Missouri, was arrested today on an indictment charging him with mail fraud and money laundering in connection with a kickback scheme he is accused of operating from June 2012 until February 2015.
According to the indictment, while a project manager for Albert Arno, Inc., a local commercial HVAC contractor, Bernaix had authority to select subcontractors and authorize their bills to Albert Arno. Bernaix decided to exploit that authority and siphon off funds from his employer through a company he organized through a straw party.
The company, Trident Management Services, billed subcontractors of Albert Arno for “management services.” In order to account for Trident’s bills, Bernaix increased the subcontractors’ invoices to Albert Arno enough to provide extra money to pay Trident’s bills. In truth, Trident provided minimal services to its clients and its bills were only paid by the subcontractors to satisfy Bernaix and keep business flowing to the subcontractors from Albert Arno.
During the nearly three-year period of the fraud scheme, Trident Management Services made more than $350,000 from Albert Arno subcontractors, which proceeds Bernaix is alleged to have divided between himself and the nominal founder and sole officer of Trident Management Services.
If convicted, Bernaix faces up to 20 years imprisonment on each of two mail fraud counts and up to 10 years imprisonment on each of two money laundering counts. Additionally, Bernaix faces up to $250,000 in fines per count and restitution for the victims will be sought pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Tom Albus is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.