43-year-old Michael Guzman of Denver, N.C., was sentenced to 54 months in prison and two years of supervised release for defrauding his former employer of more than $4 million. The announcement was made on August 26 by William T. Stetzer, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell also ordered Guzman to pay $4.1 million in restitution.
According to court records, plea documents and information revealed in the sentencing hearing, from June 2019 to May 2020, Guzman executed a scheme to defraud his employer, identified as a rental company in South Carolina, of more than $4 million. Guzman improperly auctioned off the company’s assets and funneling the proceeds through shell companies he formed.
The company victimized is a large equipment rental company headquartered in Fort Mill, S.C., that rents out on-road and off-road machinery for construction and other purposes. Guzman worked for the business as a Fleet Operations Manager, and was responsible for, among other things, the disposal of aged equipment, also known as assets.
Court records show that, during the relevant time period, Guzman arranged for approximately 398 assets from the company to be auctioned off through an online auction house that buys and sells used heavy construction equipment. To perpetuate the fraud, Guzman represented to the auction house that the assets were owned by Guzman’s shell companies, when in fact the majority of the assets were still owned by the victimized business. In his capacity as a Fleet Operations Manager, Guzman was able to hide the scheme from the company by manipulating internal company records.
According to filed court documents, Guzman arranged for the proceeds of the sales to be sent to a bank account under his control and used the money to buy a condominium in South Carolina, a plot of land in New York, an RV vehicle, a boat, and multiple cars and trucks.
On May 20, 2021, Guzman pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. He will be ordered to report to the federal Bureau of Prisons upon to begin serving his sentence designation of a federal facility.