Owner of Three Construction Companies Pleads Guilty to Scheme to Defraud a Customer of More Than $1.7 Million
Greenbelt, Maryland – Ivan Victor Thrane, age 65, of Dickerson, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in connection with a scheme to defraud a company of more than $1.7 million.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
According to his plea agreement, Thrane was the owner and president of three construction companies operating in Dickerson and Beltsville, Maryland (“the Thrane companies”). Thrane admitted that between August 2015 and January 2017, he conspired with the project manager at Victim Company 1, to defraud Victim Company 1 by submitting fraudulent payment requests for work purportedly performed by the Thrane companies. In fact, the Thrane companies had not performed all of the work indicated on the payment requests and, in some cases, had not performed any work on projects for which Thrane was requesting payment.
Specifically, Thrane and his co-conspirator, among other things, caused the Thrane companies to submit payment requests to Victim Company 1. The co-conspirator prepared the payment requests, which he e-mailed to Thrane. Thrane, or another individual at Thrane’s request, signed the payment requests on behalf of the Thrane companies. Thrane then e-mailed the signed payment requests to the co-conspirator, who, as Victim Company 1’s project manager and project executive, approved the payment requests, causing Victim Company 1 to pay the Thrane companies. Once payment was received from Victim Company 1, Thrane funneled a portion of those payments to his co-conspirator, typically by writing checks from his personal bank account or from the Thrane companies.
After Victim Company 1 discovered the overbilling by the Thrane companies in December 2016, Thrane and his co-conspirator attempted to conceal the scheme to defraud. For example, on December 28, 2016, Thrane and his co-conspirator sent each other e-mails, which they had previously discussed. Specifically, Thrane sent an e-mail to his co-conspirator and copying other employees from Victim Company 1, which read in part, “…please allow me to review our records with my accountant. My accountant is off this week. . . . Please rest assured that if there have been any overpayment to us by [Victim Company 1], we will return the overpayment immediately.” In fact, the Thrane companies did not have an accountant.
Victim Company 1 eventually initiated civil litigation against Thrane and his co-conspirator. Thrane and the co-conspirator coordinated their defense and falsely claimed that an employee of Victim Company 1 authorized the overbilling in order to obtain funds to purchase Victim Company 1. In fact, that employee did not even start working at Victim Company 1 until after Thrane and his co-conspirator had begun their fraud scheme and that employee did not authorize Thrane or Thrane companies to submit inflated payment requests.
From approximately September 2015 to December 2016, Victim Company 1 paid the Thrane companies approximately $3,294,675.34 as a result of payment requests submitted as part of the conspiracy and scheme to defraud. Upon receipt of these payments from Victim Company 1, Thrane issued approximately 34 kickback payments, totaling approximately $1,740,330 in checks written to his co-conspirator. On January 3, 2017, after discovering the fraud scheme, Victim Company 1 reversed or voided payments totaling approximately $741,525 to the Thrane companies. Thrane admits that the actual and intended loss attributable to him as a result of the scheme is between $1.5 million and $3.5 million.
As part of his plea agreement, Thrane is required to forfeit and pay restitution in the full amount of the victim’s losses still outstanding, which is at least $988,805.
Thrane faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm has scheduled sentencing for January 7, 2020.
In a separate indictment, Rakesh Kaushal, age 66, of Rockville, Maryland is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the scheme. No trial date has been set and Kaushal remains detained. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Collins and Gregory Bernstein, who are prosecuting the case.
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