Former Aiken Lawyer Sentenced in Money Laundering, Mail Fraud Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 12, 2010|
COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that John W. Harte, age 64, of Aiken, South Carolina, was sentenced today in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina, for money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. United States District Judge Margaret B. Seymour sentenced Harte to one year and one day imprisonment. Harte was also ordered to pay $482,000 in restitution and to forfeit certain assets as a part of his sentence. Harte pled guilty on September 18, 2009, and 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. Two other attorneys involved in the same scheme, John Fitzgerald O’Connor, Jr., and Michael D. Shavo, both of Columbia, South Carolina, have previously entered guilty pleas.
Harte and O’Connor assisted Trier in laundering embezzled funds. In January 2007, Trier was terminated from Crane Company, 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 ten 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.
The case was 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 prosecuted the case.