Trucking Company Owner Going to Prison for $3 MILLION Scam
Isabella County, MI – A former Michigan-based trucking company owner who pleaded guilty last year to numerous crimes related to a $3.3 million fraud scheme is headed to prison.
On Monday in U.S. Circuit Court, Lorie Stuer, 48, of North Branch, MI, was sentenced to nine to 20 years in prison after admitting in September of 2019 to three counts of larceny by false pretenses.
She was facing up to 40 years in prison.
Stuer co-owned Stoney Creek Trucking LLC with her husband Bill, who drove their truck.
At Monday’s sentencing hearing, Stuer cried as she told Circuit Court Judge Mark Duthie, and others in attendance, she was “so sorry” for her actions.
She claimed she did it out of desperation.
“I was just trying to save Bill’s company,” she said through tears, according to multiple local news reports.
Stuer was also ordered to pay back $3.3 million she embezzled in an elaborate scheme.
THE SCAM: How Stuer Stole $3 MILLION
Stuer was arrested in May of last year after authorities were alerted to the scam in December of 2018 by Bandit Industries, a provider of wood and waste processing equipment and services.
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 was never charged.
Authorities say Stuer engaged in the fraudulent scheme without Bill’s knowledge.
Civil Suit Still Pending
Bandit Industries filed a civil lawsuit in February of 2019 seeking the recovery of $3.65 million and naming as defendants: Lorie and Bill 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.
Last year, 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.
The court granted that request and the receiver has since seized assets belonging to the Stuers, including horses, vehicles and land.
The case is still being litigated.
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