Former Executive Sentenced To Federal Prison For Defrauding Health Care Company
HOUSTON – Joseph S. Antonucci, 42, has been ordered to prison following his convictions on 15 counts of wire fraud, five counts of money laundering and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement agents, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Antonucci’s scheme defrauded his former employer, Patriot Managed Health Care Systems Inc., and caused a significant monetary loss. The Houston resident pleaded guilty to defrauding his former employer on Oct. 23, 2014.
Today, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Antonucci a total sentence of 60 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. He was further ordered to pay $2.9 million in restitution.
Antonucci was employed by Patriot as executive vice president and treasurer at the company’s Houston headquarters. In this position, Antonucci ran the daily operations of the company, including soliciting and retaining clients, supervising other employees and controlling the company’s bank accounts.
The indictment charged Antonucci with defrauding Patriot by embezzling approximately $2.9 million from the company’s bank accounts from at least January 2007 through September 2012. At the time of his guilty plea, Antonucci admitted he made unauthorized withdrawals and transfers from Patriot’s bank accounts using a corporate debit card and wrote checks from these accounts to himself. Antonucci further caused Patriot’s account to transfer money by wire into both his own accounts and the accounts of third parties who provided services to Antonucci personally.
Antonucci executed the scheme by creating false financial documents which misrepresented key accounting figures for the company and overstated the company's net worth while concealing Antonucci's embezzlement. He sent these false documents via email to the managing partner of the investment fund that owned Patriot.
As part of his plea, Antonucci admitted he used emails to request additional capital investment from the managing partner, falsely claiming the funds were needed for legitimate business operations and concealing that the company actually needed money because of his own embezzlement.
Antonucci pleaded guilty to 15 counts of wire fraud based on these emails and personal expenses he paid (with Patriot’s money) for his American Express bill, gambling at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas and private jet travel. He further admitted to five counts of engaging in a monetary transactions with the proceeds of specified unlawful activity based on his use of Patriot funds to pay for additional personal expenses, including repayment of an Internal Revenue Service lien and a down payment on his home. He also admitted to making false a statement to FBI agents when they interviewed him in February 2013.
Antonucci was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson.