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Press Release

Minnesota Man Sentenced for Conspiring with Michael Mann to Defraud Lenders

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Luke Steiner, age 35, of Woodbury, Minnesota, was sentenced today to 2 years of probation, and to pay nearly $13 million in restitution, for conspiring with former ValueWise CEO Michael T. Mann to defraud companies that loaned millions of dollars to ValueWise subsidiaries. 

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Alfred A. Watson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), made the announcement.

Steiner, who previously pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, had worked at Optum, a division of UnitedHealth Group Incorporated located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He admitted that between 2013 and September 2019, while working at Optum, he conspired with Mann and Derek Schwartz to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in loans for Mann’s companies.  

Steiner admitted that he worked with Mann to induce financing companies to loan money on the basis of fake invoices purporting to show payments owed by his employer, Optum, to several of Mann’s companies.  Steiner’s role was to falsely represent to the financing companies that the fake invoices were valid and payable by Optum when, in fact, he knew that they were not.  He admitted that the conspiracy caused a total of $12,968,505.22 in losses to two financing companies, one based in New York and the other in Colorado.

Senior United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn ordered Steiner to pay $12,968,505.22 in restitution to the two financing companies, and to forfeit an additional $11,300 to the government, the latter amount representing the total value of Amazon gift cards that Mann periodically sent Steiner, between December 2017 and August 2019, as thank-yous for Steiner’s participation in the fraudulent scheme.

Mann, formerly of Saratoga County, New York, pled guilty to various crimes in connection with his fraudulent scheme, and was sentenced in August 2021 to 144 months in prison.  Schwartz, age 54, of Coppell, Texas, pled guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud, on September 21, 2023, and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 24, 2024.

The FBI investigated this case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Barnett and Cyrus P.W. Rieck are prosecuting this case.

Updated November 9, 2023

Financial Fraud