Former Employee Charged with Defrauding Honda
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal grand jury has charged Charles Michael Stratton, 61, of Fairborn, Ohio, with multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering in an indictment returned here yesterday and filed today.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the charges.
According to the indictment, Stratton served as the Facilities Manager for Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. in Marysville, Ohio from 2008 until March 2015. In his role, he oversaw various vendor contracts, including those for security services, janitorial services, food service and uniform/laundry on behalf of Honda.
Acrux Investigation Agency, located in Lakeview, Ohio, provided physical and personal security services for Honda. Surmount, also located in Lakeview, was a subsidiary of Acrux and provided monitoring services to Honda.
It is alleged that Stratton executed a scheme to defraud Honda using Acrux and Surmount by creating multiple purchase orders for payments in amounts just under $100,000, a threshold in which additional oversight and approval is required. Using these purchase orders, as well as the main labor contract, Stratton allegedly caused Acrux and Surmount to submit false invoices to Honda and instructed them to keep the money in a “future fund.” Money allocated to the future fund was then used, in part, to pay Stratton directly or through his organization, SAFE. Springfield Area Fastball Elites, Inc. (SAFE) was an Ohio non-profit created by Stratton to support local baseball teams; however, SAFE lost its classification as a 501(c)(3) in 2010.
Stratton is also charged with defrauding at least three other Honda vendors through the solicitation of donations for SAFE between 2012 and 2014, when it no longer held its tax-exempt status. Stratton received multiple donation checks, which he would either deposit in part to the SAFE bank account, while keeping a portion of the donation in cash for himself, or deposit the donation check entirely into his personal account. Only a fraction of the funds received through donations were actually spent in furtherance of SAFE’s mission.
Stratton is charged with 38 counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and money laundering carries a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, and Assistant United States Attorneys Jessica W. Knight and Peter K. Glenn-Applegate, who are prosecuting the case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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