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Press Release

Senior Executive Pleads Guilty To Defrauding International Cargo Airline Employer

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

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the guilty plea today of ROBERT SCHIRMER in connection with a massive scheme to defraud Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc. (“Polar”), a leading cargo airline, of tens of millions of dollars in revenue and the honest services of its employees.  SCHIRMER pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud before U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Polar senior executive Robert Schirmer admitted his guilt in a scheme to defraud his employer that lasted more than a decade.  Today’s plea reflects our Office’s longstanding commitment to rooting out corporate fraud.” 

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and statements made in public filings and in public court proceedings:

From at least in or about 2009 through in or about July 2021, ROBERT SCHIRMER and nine other individuals participated in a massive scheme to defraud Polar.  At all relevant times, SCHIRMER and three codefendants were senior executives of Polar (the “Executive Defendants”), and six codefendants (the “Vendor Defendants”) owned and operated various Polar vendors and customers.  The Executive Defendants agreed to accept millions of dollars in kickbacks from the Vendor Defendants, and also reaped substantial financial benefits as a result of their secret ownership interests in certain Polar vendors, in exchange for ensuring that those vendors received favorable business arrangements with Polar.  The fraud they perpetrated — which involved a substantial portion of Polar’s senior management and at least 10 customers and vendors of Polar — led to pervasive corruption of Polar’s business, touching nearly every aspect of the company’s operations, for over a decade. 

As a result of the scheme, the Executive Defendants, along with two co-conspirators who also worked as senior executives at Polar, received unlawful payments, either directly or through various limited liability companies they controlled, in excess of approximately $23 million in kickback payments or disbursements as a result of their ownership of conflicted companies. 

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SCHIRMER, 58, of Port Jefferson Station, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  SCHIRMER also agreed to pay forfeiture in the amount of $983,759.32 and to make restitution to Polar in the amount of $9,340,729.

The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  SCHIRMER is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Furman on February 13, 2024, at 3:00 p.m.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Reilly, Danielle Kudla, Kevin Mead, and Qais Ghafary are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated October 24, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-367