Stoughton Man Pleads Guilty In Trade Association Scam
BOSTON – A Stoughton man pleaded guilty yesterday to engaging in a fraud scheme involving the creation of phony invoices for annual dues that purported to come from legitimate business and trade associations.
Darren Stokes, 42, pleaded guilty yesterday to eight counts of wire fraud and seven counts of mail fraud. U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for Feb. 5, 2015.
From 2008 to 2012, Stokes caused tens of thousands of fraudulent invoices to be faxed to businesses throughout the United States which purported to be from business or trade associations and sought payment for annual membership dues. In fact, Stokes had no authorization from the business and trade associations to collect such payments. Stokes caused invoices to be sent to members of associations including the American Dental Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association, the American Trucking Association, the Associated General Contractors of America, and the National Hospital Association. In response to the fraudulent invoices, hundreds of businesses mailed checks to addresses controlled by Stokes who then cashed many of the checks.
The maximum sentence under the statutes is 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Boston, made the announcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark J. Balthazard of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit and Doreen M. Rachal of Ortiz’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.