Former Division of Highways engineer pleads guilty for fraudulent scheme
Defendant submitted fake hotel invoices and inflated expense reports to receive over $70,000 from the State of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Lewis County man pleaded guilty today for his fake hotel invoice and expense report scheme to defraud the State of West Virginia, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Steven Hull, 54, of Jane Lew, entered his guilty plea to mail fraud. U.S. Attorney Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the West Virginia Legislature Commission on Special Investigations.
“This scheme was literally highway robbery. Stealing from West Virginia taxpayers is a crime you won’t get away with,” said U.S. Attorney Stuart. “We take our obligation to protect taxpayer dollars extremely seriously, and I can assure you that my office is committed to uncovering public corruption and aggressively prosecuting this kind of theft.”
Hull admitted that from January 2011 through January 2017, he submitted false invoices attached to inflated expense reports for reimbursement by the State of West Virginia. Hull worked as an engineering technician at the West Virginia Division of Highways, and often traveled as part of his job, staying overnight throughout West Virginia. After each trip, the State of West Virginia would reimburse him. Hull admitted that during the course of his scheme, he provided expense reports for reimbursement that falsely represented the number of days he stayed at hotels, and further falsely represented that he paid for rooms for all those days.
Hull also admitted that from June 2014 until the end of his scheme, he entirely fabricated his hotel room expense reports. The reports would often state that he stayed at a Holiday Inn for a week at a time, when he was actually renting a room on a monthly basis from a less expensive hotel. Hull further admitted that he pocketed the difference in price between his monthly rental and his reimbursements. To disguise the scheme, Hull would produce detailed entries to legitimize the appearance of the fake invoices, including line items for taxes and a hotel rewards code number. From February 2011 through January 2017, Hull received $70,653.14 from submitting false hotel invoices. He paid approximately $18,144 for his monthly rental from June 2014 to December 2016.
Hull faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on May 15, 2018. As part of the plea agreement, he has also agreed to pay at least $52,509.14 in restitution.
Assistant United States Attorney Meredith George Thomas is in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.