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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Monday, October 27, 2014

Clarkson Construction Employee Pleads Guilty to $300,000 Mail Fraud Scheme


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the former director of information technology for Clarkson Construction Company pleaded guilty in federal court today to a mail fraud scheme in which he embezzled nearly $300,000 from the company.

Rodney J. Tatum, 42, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Larsen to one count of mail fraud.

Clarkson Construction Company is one of the Midwest’s largest construction companies. Clarkson specializes in large-scale construction projects such as highways, interstates, bridges, and sport facilities. Clarkson employs approximately 130 full-time employees and approximately 650 hourly employees. Clarkson’s 2013 revenue was approximately $250 million.

Tatum was employed by Clarkson from 1991 until a federal criminal complaint was filed on Aug. 12, 2014; he was Clarkson’s director of information technology since 2003. In this role, he oversaw all of Clarkson’s IT activities at all of Clarkson’s business entities.

By pleading guilty today, Tatum admitted that he ordered at least $306,540 worth of expensive computer and communication equipment (including solid state hard drives, other computer equipment, and 23 iPhones) between Oct. 22, 2013, and July 31, 2014. Tatum was ordering with company funds and then reselling this equipment for personal profit without the company’s authorization.

In addition to the scheme to defraud Clarkson Construction, Tatum also defrauded Stedman Motor Sports in Moulton, Ala., out of $6,567 worth of work, including motorcycle customization. The total loss caused by Tatum is at least $313,107.

Tatum admitted that he resold the equipment for personal profit. Bank records indicate that, during the time the computer equipment was being purchased, Tatum’s bank account was credited approximately 57 times in the amount of approximately $269,706 from PayPal. Tatum’s personal Facebook page reflected apparently large spending, including on customized motorcycles, a boat, and a large motor home.

Tatum admitted that he ordered 545 expensive solid state hard drives totaling $249,008 as well as 58 other computer-based items with a value of $14,768. The total cost of the purchases, including sales tax, shipping and handling, was $284,948.

Tatum was also responsible for purchasing Clarkson’s cellular telephones through Verizon. Tatum used Clarkson’s corporate Verizon account to purchase 23 iPhone 5 Golds and two iPad Airs at a total value of $11,317.

Clarkson discovered numerous anomalies while reviewing Tatum’s purchasing card statements and expense reports, including falsified PayPal invoices and unexplained charges from Midwestelec.  These additional charges have not yet been finalized as loss and incorporated into the loss figures.

Under federal statutes, Tatum is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel M. Nelson. It was investigated by the FBI.

Updated January 15, 2015