Lackawanna County Man Convicted Of Fraud, Identity Theft, And False Statement Offenses In Automobile Warranty Scheme
SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on May 11, 2021, Brian Larry, age 59, of Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania, was convicted following a seven-day jury trial held before United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion of mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false statement offenses.
According to Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Larry was charged with defrauding his former employer, a Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company, from approximately January 2014 through October 2018. Larry was convicted of stealing the personal information of warranty policy owners and providing it to his coconspirators, who created false invoices for nonexistent automobile repair work supposedly performed at various garages in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, including by forging the policy owners’ signatures on the paperwork. The false and forged documentation was then sent to the warranty company, where Larry approved payment of the invoices. During the course of the scheme, Larry and his coconspirators obtained approximately $400,000 paid out by the warranty company pursuant to the false invoices, including thousands of dollars in repair work for Larry’s personal vehicle that he charged to other policy owners. The evidence at trial showed that Larry then falsified internal warranty company documents in an attempt to conceal his crimes.
The jury returned a guilty verdict after approximately two hours of deliberation. Larry was convicted of every count in his indictment: one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; four counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud; five counts of aggravated identity theft; and one count of making a false statement to the FBI when he denied receiving cash kickbacks in exchange for his participation in the scheme.
Three of Larry’s coconspirators previously pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme, and are awaiting sentencing:
- Matthew Gershkoff, age 64, of North Providence, Rhode Island, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud, and to aggravated identity theft, and is awaiting sentencing. Gershkoff was convicted of preparing false invoices for nonexistent automobile repairs at multiple automobile repair shops located in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, and for forging policy owners’ signatures. Gershkoff pleaded guilty on May 18, 2020, to causing between $250,000 and $550,000 of fraudulent loss to the Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company, and has agreed to repay restitution.
- Jason Pannone, age 39, of North Providence, Rhode Island, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, and to aggravated identity theft, and is awaiting sentencing. Pannone was convicted of processing false invoices for nonexistent automobile repairs through his Providence, Rhode Island automobile detailing shop, Platinum Auto Services, and through a North Attleboro, Massachusetts automobile repair shop, Ultra Auto Services. Pannone pleaded guilty on March 23, 2021, to causing between $150,000 and $250,000 of fraudulent loss to the Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company, and he has agreed to repay over $128,000 in restitution.
- Herman Cabral, age 62, of Cranston, Rhode Island, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud. Cabral was convicted of processing false invoices for nonexistent automobile repairs through his Providence, Rhode Island automobile repair shop, A Plus Collision Center. Cabral pleaded guilty on July 23, 2019, to causing between $150,000 and $250,000 of fraudulent loss to the Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company, and he has agreed to repay over $211,000 in restitution.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phillip J. Caraballo and Jeffrey St John prosecuted the case.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law for the fraud offenses are 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory, consecutive two-year minimum. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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