Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Duane G. Larmore, age 48, of Salisbury, Maryland, yesterday to 30 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft in connection with the theft of more than $1.8 million from Shore Appliance Connection, where Larmore worked. Judge Chasanow also ordered Larmore to pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, which the parties stipulate is $1,850,488.94.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
According to his plea agreement, from mid-September 2016 through about March 2020, Larmore conspired with others to steal more than $1.8 million from a Salisbury, Maryland company, Shore Appliance Connection, owned and operated by Owner #1 and Owner #2, that sold household appliances as well as mattresses and bedding. Larmore was an employee at Shore Appliance whose duties included maintaining the books and records for the company.
Co-defendant Stephen Franklin was the chief operating officer of Accurate Optical, a chain of optometric shops on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and with the owners of Accurate Optical he also purchased East Coast Optometric, a chain of South Carolina optical shops. Larmore and Franklin met through the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and became friendly.
According to court documents, Larmore and Franklin stole nearly $2 million from Shore Appliance to use for their own purposes, including to make investments and to pay business expenses for Franklin’s business, without the knowledge and consent of the owners of Shore Appliance. For example, at the urging of Franklin, Larmore invested in the following: in 2016, a $100,000 investment with T.H.; a $95,000 investment with GenFinance II, PLC, London, U.K., which then required an additional $300,000, and then additional funds for a surety bond and travel abroad; in 2018, an investment through W.S. of $35,000 and an investment of $50,000 through Gateway Capital; and in 2019 - 2020, investments and expenses through I.P. and E.P.S. to obtain U.S. currency purportedly returned to the United States from humanitarian relief projects abroad, and other similar investments. The charges included wire transfers from Shore Appliance’s account to Franklin’s business account and from there to banks in the U.K. and Hong Kong. No investment paid any return to Larmore or Franklin.
To conceal how much money had been removed from Shore Appliance and to obtain cash, Larmore used the identities of the owners to enter into factoring contracts. Factoring is a means by which businesses, like Shore Appliance, can obtain cash quickly by leveraging accounts receivable. As detailed in court documents, the factoring contracts purportedly between Shore Appliance and various factoring companies, provided cash deposits to Shore Appliance's bank accounts but encumbered the accounts receivable of Shore Appliance and required payments and interest of more than $725,000. In addition, Larmore used his position of trust with Shore Appliance and signature authority over its bank accounts to draw on Shore Appliance’s lines of credit with two separate financial institutions to obtain another $200,000 in cash to conceal his use of Shore Appliance’s funds.
To obtain contracts with factoring companies for Shore Appliance, Larmore used his own email address and cell phone number with factors but identified that email address and cell phone number as belonging to Owner #1. Larmore also provided the factors with details of the owners’ identities, including dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and Maryland drivers’ licenses, without their permission.
To conceal the fact that the owners were not aware of and had not approved the factoring contracts, the signatures of the owners were forged and the fraudulent signatures were witnessed or notarized by Franklin; and Larmore and a female employee of Franklin’s posed as the owners in telephone conversations with representatives of the factoring companies. Finally, when Franklin’s business was having financial difficulties, at Franklin’s request, Larmore provided funds from Shore Appliance for Franklin’s companies.
In all, Larmore paid $739,295.28 of Shore Appliance’s funds, without the officers and owners’ knowledge or consent, to invest in fraudulent schemes that never paid any money back. Larmore caused an additional loss of $171,548.67 by transferring funds to Franklin or Franklin’s companies. Larmore caused Shore Appliance to lose an additional $731,250.07 in fees and other payments to factors and to factoring brokers. Larmore also caused Shore Appliance to draw on its bank lines of credit and pay extra interest to those banks in the amount $208,395. Thus, the factoring arrangements and advances on Shore Appliance’s lines of credit in total caused Shore Appliance to lose in actual funds $939,645. However, Shore Appliance as of March 2020 still owed the factors almost $270,000. For all of Larmore’s conduct, actual cash losses to Shore Appliance totaled $1,850,488.94 and intended losses totaled $2,137,674.74.
On September 7, 2023, Judge Chasanow sentenced Stephen Franklin, age 54, of Salisbury, Maryland, to 66 months in federal prison on the same charges and also ordered him to pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Evelyn Lombardo Cusson, who prosecuted the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach. For more information about resources available to report fraud, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/report-fraud.
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