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Press Release

Former Employee Charged with Defrauding Smucker of $4.1 Million

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

A former employee was charged with mail fraud for a 16-year scheme to defraud J.M. Smucker Company, of Orville, Ohio, of more than $4.1 million, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office. 

Mark R. Kershey, age 54, of Akron and formerly of Massillon, was employed as Smucker’s chief airplane mechanic at the Akron-Canton airport when, from approximately October 1997 through January 2013, he devised a false billing scheme using a fictitious entity he controlled, under the name of Aircraft Parts Services, Co., according to the one-count criminal information filed in federal court.

Kershey submitted false invoices to Smucker in the name of Aircraft Parts Services, which in all or nearly all instances were for nonexistent parts and/or for purported outside services that he actually performed as part of his salaried employment duties. Kershey submitted most invoices in amounts less than $10,000, which he was authorized to approve. A supervisor approved a few larger invoices based on his trust in Kershey, according to the information.

Kershey maintained a P.O. Box under the fake company name in Greentown, Ohio, to receive checks mailed by Smucker in reliance on the fraudulent invoices.  Kershey used the proceeds of his scheme for personal uses, including the purchase and maintenance of two airplanes, the purchase of several automobiles, and payments for his personal residence, according to the information.

The information describes Kershey’s efforts in late 2012 to deceive Smucker with respect to the final three checks payable to Aircraft Parts Services totaling $44,000, which Kershey had failed to negotiate. Kershey told the employee that Aircraft Parts Services had been sold to another Smucker vendor (referred to in the information as SAI), and submitted a letter to Smucker purportedly from SAI’s owner, that Kershey fabricated and forged, falsely confirming the purported sale to SAI.  Smucker then issued replacement checks to SAI, that SAI deposited after discussion between Kershey and SAI’s owner.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

In addition, the information seeks forfeiture from Kershey of his two airplanes, three automobiles, and a truck, which are alleged to be proceeds traceable to his mail fraud scheme.

The case is being handled by Special Assistant United States Attorney John M. Siegel following investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Canton, Ohio.

An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 18, 2015