Two Fitchburg Men Sentenced For Fraud Scheme
Madison, Wis. - John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Steve Schmidt, 56, and Darren Ulatowski, 47, both of Fitchburg, Wis., were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Madison. Chief U.S. District Judge William Conley sentenced Schmidt to 42 months in prison and Ulatowski to 15 months.
Schmidt was remanded into immediate custody of the U.S. Marshal and ordered to start his sentence at the federal prison in Rochester, Minn. Ulatowski was ordered to report to prison on or before June 17, 2013.
Schmidt pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering on February 12, 2013. Schmidt's co-conspirator, Ulatowski, pleaded guilty to mail fraud on February 4, 2013. On December 8, 2011, a federal grand jury in Madison returned a 22-count mail and wire fraud indictment that charged both Schmidt and Ulatowski with participating in a scheme to defraud "It's Your Party"(IYP)-- a Madison party event company where Schmidt worked.
The defendants used a variety of methods to embezzle money and products, and to misuse property and personnel from IYP for their own personal purposes, which included, among other things, the funding of a floral shop in Verona owned by Ulatowski called "House of Flowers" (HOF) in order to keep HOF solvent and operational. In his plea agreement, Schmidt agreed that the fraud loss amount for the scheme to defraud totaled $323,948.
At today's sentencing hearing for Schmidt, Judge Conley noted Schmidt was involved in a series of financial train wrecks that have left several people holding the bag. The judge noted that the large number of people that have been impacted by Schmidt's financial misconduct was very disturbing to the court.
Judge Conley also stated to Schmidt, "You have the ability to look into people's eyes and cause people to trust you. You are doing it right now to me. You have to stop it. It won't work."
The charges against Schmidt and Ulatowski were the result of an investigation conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Graber and Kevin Burke.