Omaha Man Sentenced for Tax Evasion and Role in Multi-Million Dollar Embezzlement
Acting United States Attorney Susan T. Lehr announced that Jeffrey Stenstrom, 42, of Omaha, Nebraska, was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Brian C. Buescher to 30 months’ imprisonment for Income Tax Evasion and 78 months’ imprisonment for Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering; these terms of incarceration were ordered to be run concurrently. There is no parole in the federal system. After his release from prison, Stenstrom will serve a two-year term of supervised release. As part of his sentence Stenstrom was ordered to pay $5,146,816.51 to victim property owners who were clients of Darland Properties, LLC and $1,954,505.10 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
Stenstrom also admitted to forfeiture allegations and has forfeited his interest in a 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider, a lake home in Fremont, Nebraska, a home in Queen Creek, Arizona, two commercial properties in Nebraska, nearly $2.2 million in life insurance policy proceeds, approximately $ 74,743.00 in currency, and multiple items of jewelry and luxury watches.
Stenstrom owned and operated Stenstrom Services, Inc. (hereinafter SSI) from 2006 through approximately 2021. SSI described itself as a commercial remodeling and repair business. Brett Cook was the Vice President of Darland Properties, LLC. In that role, Cook was entrusted to negotiate prices for work to be completed on properties managed by Darland Properties and authorize payments to be made from the real estate trust accounts of Darland Properties’ clients. Stenstrom had been in a decades’ long relationship with Cook. Cook is now deceased.
Beginning in approximately 2015, Cook used his position as the Vice President of Darland Properties to direct repair work to SSI. SSI performed no skilled labor, had no employees, and all regular laborers were unskilled. Most of the work SSI performed on behalf of Darland Properties was subcontracted. Cook was the initial point of contact for many of the subcontractors and directed the subcontractors that all work must be run through SSI. Cook and Stenstrom used SSI to fraudulently obtain monies from Darland Properties’ clients by causing SSI to bill for work that was not performed, overbilling for work, and causing SSI’s inflated invoices to be submitted to insurance companies to obtain insurance proceeds to which Darland Properties’ clients were not entitled to.
From 2012 to 2016, Stenstrom derived income from Stenstrom Services. Stenstrom Services generated $752,744 in 2012, $469,140 in 2013, $641,010 in 2014, $731,091 in 2015, and $575,466 in 2016. On May 30, 2018, the IRS assessed $1,725,532.91 related to unpaid income tax owed by Stenstrom. On December 14, 2018, Stenstrom provided a signed Form 433-A to an IRS Revenue Officer. This form omitted numerous assets owned by Stenstrom that were being held in the name of a third party to include a second home in Queen Creek, Arizona valued at approximately $1,000,000, a Ferrari 488 Coupe valued at $200,000 to $300,000, a boat, an ATV, a Jeep, and a home located in Fremont, Nebraska, valued at approximately $450,000. Stenstrom also excluded the transfer of a home in Gilbert, Arizona, to another party for below fair market value.
In 2019, the IRS placed a tax levy on Stenstrom’s accounts. Cook and Stenstrom ceased directing work to SSI and began directing work to Midwest Property Maintenance Solutions (hereinafter MPMS) which was created by Cook and a family member of Cook. Cook, his family member, and Stenstrom used MPMS to fraudulently obtain money from Darland Properties’ clients by billing for work that had previously been completed by SSI, billing for work that was not performed, billing for warranties it did not provide and were previously paid for by Darland Properties’ clients, and overbilling for work that was done.
The proceeds from the wire fraud scheme were deposited into SSI’s, MPMS’s, and Cook’s bank accounts where the fraudulently obtained funds were commingled with legitimate funds. The funds were then transferred to various bank accounts held in Cook’s name, Stenstrom’s name, Cook’s family member’s name, AZ Midwest Properties, LLC, 14334 Industrial Road, LLC, and B & B Real Estate, LLC (a real estate partnership that Cook was a partner in), where they were further commingled with legitimate funds. The proceeds were then used to acquire residential and commercial real estate, luxury vehicles, life insurance policies, jewelry, watches, credit card purchases, and loan payments. Cook, Stenstrom, and Cook’s family member concealed the scheme by laundering the proceeds through various business and personal bank accounts, purchasing and selling the aforementioned assets, and subsequently using those proceeds to acquire additional assets. In total, the scheme resulted in excess of $5,100,000.00 being fraudulently obtained from Darland Properties’ clients for the personal benefits of Cook, his family member, and Stenstrom.
“This case shows that regardless of the tactics used to avoid tax obligations, IRS Criminal Investigation will take all necessary steps to unravel the scheme and bring those who break our tax laws to justice,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge, Thomas F. Murdock. “This joint effort with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the tax system is fair for all citizens.”
FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said, “In a clear-cut case of greed, Jeffrey Stenstrom and his co-conspirator embezzled more than five million dollars to support their lavish lifestyle. FBI Omaha is dedicated to investigating and holding accountable those, like Stenstrom, who fraudulently enrich themselves at the expense of their hard-working victims.”
“Today’s sentencing is the culmination of a three-year investigation into the criminal activities of Jeff Stenstrom and Brett Cook that involved the collaboration of our office and multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies spanning multiple states in addition to a parallel civil suit initiated by our office’s asset forfeiture unit,” said Acting United States Attorney Susan Lehr. “Today’s sentencing is an example of our office’s determination to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively prosecute white collar criminals, to divest those criminals of the wrongfully obtained proceeds, and to seek restitution for victims.”
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.