Clarkson Construction Employee Sentenced for $442,000 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 was sentenced in federal court today for a $442,000 fraud scheme in which he used the firm’s credit card to purchase equipment that he re-sold for personal profit.
Rodney J. Tatum, 44, of Branson, Mo., formerly of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to one year and three months in prison. The court also ordered Tatum, who paid $62,412 in restitution at today’s sentencing hearing, to pay a total of $442,810 in restitution.
Tatum was employed by Clarkson Construction Company, one of the Midwest’s largest construction companies, 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.
On Oct. 27, 2014, Tatum pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Tatum admitted that he ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars of expensive computer and communication equipment (including hundreds of solid state hard drives, other computer equipment, and 23 iPhones) between October 2013 and September 2014. Tatum used the company’s credit card to order equipment that the company did not need and never saw. He then resold this equipment for personal profit without the company’s authorization.
Tatum hid his fraud by bulk purchasing merchandise that could be used for his department and by faking invoice reports so the company would not suspect him. Tatum spent the proceeds of his fraud scheme on such luxury items as customized motorcycles, a boat, jet skis and a large motor home. According to court documents, Tatum earned an annual salary of $120,000 while employed by Clarkson Construction. Despite his income, he used embezzled money on personal expenses and vehicles, and yet still incurred significant debt.
Once the fraud was found, the company was forced to internally audit their entire inventory to establish the amount lost. Altogether, the offense conduct resulted in a $436,243 loss for Clarkson Construction Company.
In addition, Tatum used the money to obtain custom work on a motorcycle at Stedman Motorsports in Alabama, and then falsely reported it as fraudulent activity. He made four payments to them on the custom work provided, and then took back all payments with a fabricated story. This resulted in a $6,567 loss for Stedman Motorsports.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel M. Nelson. It was investigated by the FBI.