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Press Release

Fourth Defendant Admits Defrauding Clifton-Based Trucking Company Of More Than $900,000

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A Clifton, New Jersey, woman today admitted her role in a scheme to defraud a New Jersey-based trucking company of over $900,000, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.   


Lisa Popewiny, 55, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to Count One of an indictment charging her with wire fraud. Brothers Miguel Vidal, Angel D. Vidal, and Angel Gabriel Vidal previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges for their roles in the scheme.


According to documents filed in the case and statements made in Court:


Popewiny was the payroll clerk at Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc., a Clifton company that provided transportation and freight services to various public and private entities located in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere.  From June 2012 to April 2015, Popewiny, and the Vidals, including Miguel Vidal – a former truck driver for the Company – engaged in a scheme to defraud the company of $920,380. 


Popewiny falsified payroll records in order to generate fraudulent paychecks payable to non-existent employees, including the Vidal brothers. All of the Vidal brothers have admitted to allowing the use of their personal identifying information to generate the fraudulent paychecks.  The three men then converted the fraudulent paychecks, many of which were deposited into their bank accounts and then funneled out of the accounts in cash. Miguel Vidal admitted to recruiting other individuals to provide their personal information so that Popewiny could falsely add them to the payroll. Popewiny input false hours for at least 12 different individuals. The scheme came to light when owners of the company, in an effort to investigate suspected fraud, distributed the payroll checks to employees – a task normally completed by Popewiny. After all of the payroll checks had been distributed, several paychecks remained unclaimed that turned out to be fraudulently issued. 


The charge to which Popewiny pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2018.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick credited criminal investigators in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and postal inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cari Fais, of the Special Prosecution Division, and Lee M. Cortes Jr., Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division.

Defense counsel: Christopher D. Adams Esq., Holmdel, New Jersey

Updated September 20, 2017

Press Release Number: 17-351