Business Owner Sentenced for Scheme to Steal $1.3 Million from State Fund
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Missouri business owner was sentenced in federal court for a scheme to embezzle more than $1.3 million from the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund.
Robert L. Fine, II, 52, of Lenexa, Kan., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, to two years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Fine to pay a $50,000 fine in addition to $1,505,514 in restitution that Fine previously paid to the Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund, which includes the total amount of the fraud and related costs.
On Nov. 12, 2013, Fine pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.
Fine was the owner and sole employee of FINEnvironmental, Inc., a Missouri corporation that he operated from an office in his residence. FINEnvironmental performed environmental services for property owners who used or operated a petroleum storage tank.
In 1989, the Missouri General Assembly created the Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund (PSTIF) in response to federal legislation requiring owners and operators of underground storage tanks to have the financial resources available to pay for cleanup of spills or leaks from their tanks. The PSTIF was funded by a fee assessed to petroleum companies on each load of petroleum that is transported into Missouri and by annual fees charged to the owners and operators for insurance coverage.
Fine utilized subcontractors to perform his environmental services, and those subcontractors submitted invoices to Fine for the work they performed. From August 2002 to February 2012, Fine created false invoices purporting to be from one of his subcontractors and inflated the amount of the invoices. Fine mailed the fraudulent invoices to the PSTIF for payment and, over a nearly 10-year period, obtained $924,236 in excess payments from the PSTIF.
Fine also admitted that he obtained additional funds from the PSTIF by fraudulently submitting invoices for an additional groundwater monitoring trip when only one was made, totaling $326,978. The plea agreement cites an additional $66,243 in losses that resulted from Fine’s fraudulent activity.
The total amount of the fraud committed by Fine on the PSTIF is $1,317,469.
This case was prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller. It was investigated by the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Cole County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Missouri Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund.