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Press Release

Two Lawyers Sentenced in Federal Court for Wire Fraud Scheme Against Johnson Controls

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Wisconsin

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced today that Scott Hess, a 54-year old resident of Menominee Falls, Wisconsin, and Craig Hilborn, a 55-year old resident of Birmingham, Michigan, were sentenced by the Honorable J.P. Stadtmueller for their participation in a wire fraud scheme.

Until late 2015, Hess was an in-house attorney at Johnson Controls, Inc., in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Hilborn ran his own law firm in Michigan.  Together, Hess and Hilborn devised and executed a scheme to defraud Johnson Controls: Hess created fraudulent invoices for legal work purportedly completed by Hilborn’s law firm.  Hess then approved those invoices on behalf of his employer, causing Johnson Controls to pay Hilborn’s law firm the invoiced amounts.  In reality, Hilborn’s law firm did not perform any meaningful legal work for Johnson Controls.  Hess and Hilborn carried out the scheme from 2000 through 2015, in the process stealing approximately $4.5 million from Johnson Controls.

In March and April of 2018, Hess and Hilborn both pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code § 1343. On June 15, 2018, the Honorable J.P. Stadtmueller sentenced Hess to 32 months in prison, three years supervised release and a $90,000 fine. On June 28, 2018, the Honorable J.P. Stadtmueller sentenced Hilborn to 21 months in prison, two year’s supervised release and a $60,000 fine. Both Hess and Hilborn were ordered to pay full restitution to Johnson Controls.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca Taibleson.

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For Additional Information Contact:

Public Information Officer Dean Puschnig 414-297-1700

Updated June 29, 2018