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FORMER FEDERAL EMPLOYEE INDICTED FOR USING STOLEN MONEY ORDER RECEIPTS IN FRAUD SCHEME

SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former federal employee has been indicted by a federal grand jury for using stolen money order receipts in a fraud scheme to avoid paying his medical bills.

Byron G. Gorman, 50, of St. Joseph, Mo., was charged in a six-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Gorman’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Gorman was employed as an information technology specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General, assigned to the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Kansas City, Mo., an FBI-facilitated laboratory where he was being trained to become a computer forensic examiner.

The federal indictment alleges that Gorman used stolen money order receipts – taken by Gorman as he participated in a criminal investigation – as fraudulent evidence in court, both to defend himself against a lawsuit against him by his creditors and in his own lawsuit against his creditors. The indictment also alleges that Gorman stole the identities of several persons by forging their signatures on documents he created to use as evidence in court.

According to the indictment, Gorman was a defendant in a civil collection lawsuit in Buchanan County, Mo., in which a judgment had been entered against him and a garnishment of his wages had been ordered to recover monies owed on medical bills incurred at the Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph. On Sept. 28, 2012, Gorman’s creditors filed a second civil collection lawsuit against him in Buchanan County to recover monies owed on additional unpaid medical bills.

On May 22, 2012, Gorman participated in the execution of a federal search warrant at the offices of a private business in Kansas City, Kan. Gorman was there to search for computer-related evidence. He allegedly found and took five blank U.S. Postal Service money order receipts belonging to the private business for the purpose of facilitating a scheme to defraud Heartland Regional Medical Center and related entities to whom he owed medical bills for services provided at Heartland Regional Medical Center.

The federal indictment alleges that Gorman used the stolen money order receipts and other fraudulent documents created as evidence in his defense. Gorman allegedly claimed that he had submitted postal money orders to his creditors, but the payments had not posted. As evidence, he allegedly provided the five stolen money order receipts, which were filled out to make it appear that money orders had been made out to Heartland Regional Medical Center, as well as a number of forged letters displaying the names and purported signatures of postal employees.

Gorman also used the stolen money order receipts and other fraudulent documents he created as evidence in a lawsuit he caused to be filed against his creditors, according to the indictment. Gorman allegedly placed the names and forged signatures of the actual persons onto letters purporting to be from the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission onto two letters and two certified mail receipts as part of his wire fraud scheme.

Gorman is charged with one count of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Gorman to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged offenses, including $18,000.

As an examiner in training, Gorman did not perform any computer forensic examinations unless under the supervision of a fully certified Heart of America Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory (HARCFL) examiner.

Upon learning of the allegations regarding Gorman, the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory did a complete and thorough review of any cases which Gorman may have assisted in the examination of computer forensic evidence. No inconsistencies, errors or issues were noted with any evidence. The HARCFL is a fully accredited laboratory facility following a strict protocol for the examination of evidence and the training protocol for examiners in training.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Cowles. It was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at: http://www.justice.gov/wdmo

Indictment: Gorman Indictment

St. Joseph Man Pleads Guilty to His Role in Solar Company’s $1.4 Million Fraud Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s Office September 02, 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced an owner of a solar energy installation company in St. Joseph, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a fraud scheme that totaled nearly $1.4 million in rebates through state and federal programs.

Richard Schonemann, 38, of St. Joseph, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to a two-count information that charges him with one count of conspiracy related to false statements in regard to a federal rebate program, and one count of false statements related to kilowatt updates in a federal solar rebate program.

Schonemann was an owner of U.S. Solar in St. Joseph, which sold and installed solar-powered panel systems to businesses and home owners in northwest Missouri. Between 2011 and 2013, Schonemann and U.S. Solar participated in two solar panel rebate programs, one authorized by the state of Missouri and the second administered by the federal government. As a result of this scheme, U.S. Solar received a total of $1,398,236 in fraudulent rebates.

Solar Photovoltaic Rebate Program ($465,360 Fraud Scheme)

According to today’s plea agreement, U.S. Solar and a co-conspirator were involved in obtaining fraudulent rebates from KCP&L as part of the state rebate program. U.S. Solar overstated the number of solar panels installed on approximately 27 homes or businesses from December 2011 through June 2013. As a result, U.S. Solar was paid $465,360 more in rebates than the company was entitled to receive.

KCP&L administered the state’s Solar Photovoltaic Rebate Program, which was created in 2008 by the state of Missouri and funded by a tax on power customers. The rebate allowed for a payment of $2 per watt, not to exceed $50,000, to customers that installed solar powered panel systems on their homes or businesses. U.S. Solar was one of the larger solar powered panel system installation companies that utilized this rebate program through KCP&L. To utilize the state rebate program, U.S. Solar submitted applications and schematic drawings on behalf of their customers via e-mail to KCP&L. Once the application process was completed, funds were disbursed to U.S. Solar by checks mailed from KCP&L.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ($932,876 Fraud Scheme)

During the investigation of the state rebate scheme, the FBI uncovered unexplained payments from the federal government to U.S. Solar that led to the discovery of a second fraudulent scheme that was part of the conspiracy.

Schonemann and a co-conspirator obtained fraudulent rebates authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Under the federal program, the government reimbursed 30 percent of the cost of the installation of a solar-powered panel system leased to the property owner. U.S. Solar received federal funds under this program from August 2011 to September 2013, because U.S. Solar certified they installed systems and leased those systems to the property owners. The certification was false because the systems were owned by customers rather than leased. U.S. Solar submitted forged lease contracts in order to receive the federal rebates.

U.S.lar received 34 payments from the federal government, totaling $932,876. U.S. Solar was not eligible to receive any of the $932,876 paid under the federal program.

False Statements

Additionally, each year after installation, U.S. Solar was required to certify that the installed systems were still running and report the systems’ output. Schonemann and a co-conspirator provided updates showing kilowatt usage on each of those properties to the federal government in 2012 and 2013. In some instances, Schonemann simply made up the numbers.

A co-conspirator created false paperwork and computer entries using U.S. Solar customer information. The conspiracy involved the use of false paperwork and computer entries, including lease agreements, certification that U.S. Solar retained ownership of the solar-powered panel systems, detailed cost breakdowns on each system and usage reports. Schonemann and a co-conspirator were involved in preparation of the false usage reports.

One of the fraudulent federal payments related to Schonemann’s place of employment, Prolific Technologies, Inc. Fraudulent paperwork was submitted requesting payment for 36 extra panels not installed or leased, resulting in a rebate overpayment of $20,028.

Penalties

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Schonemann must forfeit to the government $350,000 that he received from the fraud scheme.

During the course of the conspiracy, Schonemann received payments from U.S. Solar that were described as profit distributions. A significant source for those profit distributions were funds received by U.S. Solar from the federal program. A portion of those funds were used towards the construction of a new house Schonemann built, which is currently listed for sale at an asking price of over $400,000.

Schonemann’s residential property is currently named in a civil judicial forfeiture action. Schonemann will be allowed to market this property and, if the property is sold, the first $350,000 in net equity will be used to pay restitution for the federal program fraud. If there is not a signed real estate contract on the property by Oct. 1, 2015, the civil forfeiture action shall proceed and the property will be forfeited to the government to be sold by the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government’s sentencing recommendation to the court will not exceed 15 months in federal prison. 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 Jane Pansing Brown. It was investigated by the FBI.

Reference: https://www.fbi.gov/kansascity/press-releases/2015/st.-joseph-man-pleads-guilty-to-his-role-in-solar-companys-1.4-million-fraud-scheme