Trucking Company Owner Faces 40 Years in Jail For $3.65 Million Scam
Isabella County, MI – A former trucking company owner pleaded guilty on Monday to numerous crimes related to a $3.65 million fraud scheme she carried out from 2011 until she was caught in 2018.
Lorie Ann Stuer, 47 of North Branch, owned Stoney Creek Trucking LLC with her husband William, and admitted to three counts of larceny by false pretenses.
Each charge is a felony and Stuer could be sentenced to up to 40 years in jail.
However, Isabella County Prosecutor Dave Barberi said Stuer will likely be sentenced to between 36-60 months for her admitted crimes.
Barberi also indicated Stuer will likely be ordered to pay back $3.3 million when she is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2, 2019.
Stuer was arrested in May of this year after authorities were alerted to the scam by Bandit Industries, a provider of wood and waste processing equipment and services, in December of 2018.
The five-month long investigation into Stoney Creek Trucking revealed Stuer’s elaborate scheme to defraud Bandit.
According to court documents, the scam began in 2011 when Stuer fraudulently billed Bandit for an additional $4,850.
When her deception was not discovered, prosecutors say the scheme continued growing each year until 2018 when Stuer defrauded Bandit of $1.47 million.
Stuer’s scam worked like this: she altered and resubmitted invoices, invoiced for freight that never existed, altered bills of lading and used counterfeit signatures.
Further, prosecutors say she used eCapital, a third-party invoicing company, to invoice Bandit for shipments.
According to records, eCapital would pay Stoney Creek most of the money on the invoice and then file it with Bandit, while representing to Bandit all of the services being billed-for were performed.
Once Bandit submitted payment of the invoices, eCapital would then return more money to Stoney Creek while keeping a portion for its services.
Stuer’s husband, William, who was a co-owner of the trucking company, was never charged.
Authorities say Stuer engaged in the fraudulent scheme without William’s knowledge.
Bandit Files Suit
Bandit Industries filed a civil lawsuit in February of 2019 seeking the recovery of $3.65 million and naming as defendants: Lorie and William Stuer, Stoney Creek Trucking LLC, the third-party invoicing company eCapital, Capital Partners Funding and Capital Partners Services Corp.
The six-count lawsuit alleges that each of the defendants either engaged in fraud directly against Bandit, or should have known it was taking place.
Along with asserting the Stuers defrauded Bandit, the suit also accuses eCapital of negligence in verifying the information on fraudulent invoices Stuer submitted.
In March, Bandit’s legal team filed a motion asking the court to appoint a receiver, alleging that the Stuers had engaged in actions to conceal or offload assets.
According to multiple reports, the receiver has since seized assets belonging to the Stuers, including horses, vehicles and land.
Additionally, several bank and PayPal accounts linked to the Stuers have been frozen.
The civil case is likely to conclude sometime this year.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to follow this case.
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