Owner of Bend-Based Microbrewery Equipment Company Indicted on Fraud Charges
EUGENE, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Eugene returned an indictment last week charging a Bend, Oregon resident with using a microbrewery equipment company to defraud customers of more than $800,000.
The seven-count indictment alleges that Matthew Mulder, 48, used his company, WeCan Brewing Systems, LLC, to solicit payments from 23 customers located throughout the U.S. Mulder’s company supplied custom-built microbrew systems, keg washers, and other industrial brewing products. Many of his customers were microbrewery owners.
According to court documents, beginning in at least 2017, Mulder began soliciting and accepting orders for microbrewery equipment he knew his company was not capable of fulfilling. When asked by various customers for order updates, Mulder falsely stated that the orders were on schedule or near completion.
Mulder would entice customers to make payments by sending emails and text messages that included photos of nearly-completed orders prepared for other customers. Mulder solicited and accepted new customer contracts requiring large down payments that he would in-turn use for personal expenses, to pay off loans, and to pay suppliers.
Mulder made his initial appearance in federal court in Eugene today. He was released pending a jury trial scheduled for April 29, 2020 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.
Mulder faces four counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud. Wire and mail fraud are both punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Bend Police Department and is being prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.