Three men are going to federal prison and a fourth was placed on strict probation, following what federal prosecutors say was the largest scam ever carried out in San Antonio, 1200 WOAI news reports.
John Bean, the owner of Synergy Personnel, a Professional Employer Organization, and the ringleader fo the scam, was sentenced to six years in federal prison.
Pat Mire, who owned another PEO, Service Professionals, got three years.
Mike Soltis, executive assistant at Service Professionals, got two years in prison.
A fourth defendant, John D. Walker II, owner of the PEO Safe Staff, Inc. got strict probation.
A Professional Employer Organization is a company which for a fee handles all of a firm's payroll operations, from managing deductions and taxes to handling hourly pay. They also act as employment agencies, handling part time employment.
Federal prosecutors say the men stole a whopping $133 million from the various clients of the PEO's they owned and operated. They would enter into staff leasing agreements with various companies to manage their payroll operations. But they diverted the funds which were withheld from paychecks not to payroll taxes or insurance premiums, but into their own pockets.
All of the men were also ordered to repay the money they stole. Bean, for example, was ordered to repay $120 million to the companies he ripped off.
"Motivated by greed, the defendants perpetrated an extensive fraud scheme, designed to steal money from their clients and taxpayers over a number of years," FBI Special Agent Aaron Rouse said. "They chose to ignore their responsibilities and live a lavish lifestyle on money belonging to other employees and the U.S. government."
Rouse said agents are still actively searching for other individuals who may have had a hand in the scheme.