Former Bay Area Engineer Charged With Mail Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft In Connection With Fraudulent Building Inspection Reports
Defendant Allegedly Engaged in a Scheme to Defraud Individuals and Municipalities by Issuing Forged and Fraudulent Special Inspection Reports
SAN FRANCISCO – A complaint was unsealed today charging Peter Schurman with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to defraud individuals and municipalities in Sausalito and San Francisco by issuing and charging clients for fraudulent Special Inspection reports, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.
According to the complaint filed July 14, 2020, and unsealed today, Schurman, 70, of Tiburon, was an engineering technician and field inspector at several engineering firms throughout the Bay Area. Schurman focused on Special Inspection reports, which are a proactive method of enhancing public safety by ensuring buildings are constructed according to design documents, specifications and approved drawings.
As evidence of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, the complaint alleges that between July 2015 and October 2019, Schurman knowingly used the name and engineer stamp of other persons who were licensed engineers, without their knowledge or permission, in order to make fraudulent Special Inspection reports appear legitimate. On one project described in the complaint, Schurman sent six invoices containing nine Special Inspection reports for a homeowner in Sausalito, California. Those reports certified that specified work on the project had been performed pursuant to the city-approved plans. According to the complaint, however, the engineer whose signature and stamp appeared on the reports never worked on the project, never signed the documents, never provided her/his stamps, and had no idea that her/his credentials had been used or that her/his signature had been forged.
The complaint further alleges that Schurman’s scheme involved fraudulent Special Inspection reports relating to at least seven other properties in San Francisco, California. Similar to the above-described instance in Sausalito, the fraudulent Special Inspection reports involved in the San Francisco projects were submitted with forged signatures and stamps from five different engineers.
Schurman is charged with mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. The maximum penalty for mail fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft is two years in prison—to be served consecutively to the underlying felony—and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are mere allegations. As in any criminal case, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Schurman had his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim and is set for a status conference on August 21, 2020. Schurman was released on a $50,000 bond.
The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The case is being investigated by the FBI. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera also alleged in a lawsuit unsealed in March of 2020 that Schurman engaged in fraud.