Imagine that: Stealing from the people who are making money for you.
The former chief operating officer for Maryland-based information technology company Quantell Inc. and Intaset Technologies Corp., “was sentenced to three years of probation for tax fraud and conspiring to steal from workers’ health and welfare plans,” says a Mar. 12 Baltimore Sun article.
Jonathan Mickle, the COO of the company, plead guilty to being involved in “a scheme that allegedly swindled $1.6 million from employee health benefits and deceived the government on company size to win contracts reserved for small organizations.”
As a part of this scheme, Mickle and his co-conspirators created an “inactive company used as a vehicle for various financial maneuvers,” otherwise known as a “shell” company, in order to funnel federal payments meant for the retirement plans of the company’s employees. They then sent false invoices and other false documentation to the government in order to cover their tracks, according to the prosecution in the case.
The U.S. Department of Justice said that the scheme began in 2008, with Mickle taking over $100,000 as it continued. In June, when Mickle plead guilty to one count of tax fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, he faced up to 23 years in prison.
On Mar. 11, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Mickle to only three years of probation, along with a $10 million forfeiture and an $851,762 restitution order, which requires him to pay money to the victims of the health benefits fraud. Despite the size of the restitution order, Mickle will be required to pay off only $50 a month.
Quantell majority shareholders and controlling officers Shaun and Joanne Tucker were also charged in connection with the scheme. They “pled guilty in July to defrauding the U.S. government on more than $30 million worth of contracts, stealing the employee benefits and evading taxes,” according to the Department of Justice.
In November, Shaun Tucker was sentenced to eight years in prison, in addition to “a $30 million forfeiture order for the contracting allegations, a $1.6 million restitution order for stealing the employee benefits and another $492,961 payout for tax evasion.” His wife Joanne Tucker was sentenced to 366 days in prison and received the same orders for forfeiture, restitution, and payout.
According to Maryland Embezzlement Attorney Kush Arora, “White collar crimes like fraud and embezzlement, and especially those involving theft or embezzlement from an employee benefit or health care plan, can have extremely harsh penalties. In this case, the three people involved were sentenced to fewer than ten years in prison and some heavy fines, but it could have been worse.”