Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering, Mail Fraud Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 24, 2010|
COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney William N. Nettles stated that John Fitzgerald O’Connor, Jr., age 63, of Columbia, South Carolina, pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. During the plea hearing, O’Connor admitted to being involved in a conspiracy to liquidate and conceal monies and property which had been stolen by a former client, William J. Trier, II, from his employer Dixie Narco. United States District Judge Margaret B. Seymour accepted the guilty plea and will sentence him at a later date.
Another attorney, John W. Harte, age 63, of Aiken South Carolina, involved in the same scheme, pled guilty on September 18, 2009, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. According to the facts elicited at the pleas, Harte and O’Connor assisted Trier in laundering embezzled funds. In January 2007, Trier was terminated from Crane Co., a vending machine manufacturing company in Aiken County, as the director of logistics in the shipping department. From 1997 through January 2007, Trier embezzled funds from Crane by creating phony invoices from two fictitious freight transport companies and submitting them to Crane for payment. He used his position to approve the payment of the fraudulent invoices, and received company payments mailed to a post office box he had opened as the mailing address for the phantom companies. Over a 10-year period, Trier collected approximately $5,200,000.00 using the false invoice scam. When Trier learned that he was under investigation, he contacted Harte to help him hide assets. According to Harte, he enlisted the help of O’Connor and others.
Trier pled guilty to mail fraud and money laundering on April 30, 2008 and was sentenced to 63 months of imprisonment, ordered to pay $5,272,556 in restitution, and to forfeit millions of dollars in assets. Harte and O’Connor are facing a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah B. Barbier and Mark C. Moore of the Columbia office are prosecuting the case.