Owner of Local Payroll Services Company Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Money Laundering Charges
ST. LOUIS, MO—Bradley Ferguson, owner of Fenton based Paymaster Business Solutions, Inc., pled guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges involving his failure to remit federal, state and local taxes to the proper taxing authorities that had been deducted from victim client bank accounts. Ferguson also failed to remit FICA withholding to the IRS on behalf of his business clients. Ferguson’s clients included churches, youth organizations, child daycare facilities, law firms, and other businesses throughout the St. Louis area.
According to court documents, from January 2005 through January 2014, Ferguson drafted funds directly from Paymaster business clients’ bank accounts in order to pay their federal, state, and local tax liabilities. However, Paymaster, at Ferguson’s direction failed to forward the Paymaster business clients’ funds to the taxing authorities in order to pay their tax liabilities then due and owing. Paymaster drafted in excess of $2,700,000 from Paymaster business clients’ bank accounts to pay client’s federal, state, and local tax liabilities, as well as FICA liabilities, for the period July 2013 through December 2013, but were not forwarded to the proper taxing authorities. Additionally, Ferguson, as Power of Attorney for Paymaster business clients, was contacted directly by the IRS and questioned as to the failure the payments of client federal tax liabilities. Ferguson did not tell his clients about the IRS inquiries. When clients occasionally learned that Paymaster had not forwarded their funds to the taxing authorities, Ferguson lied to them and told them Paymaster had made the payments. In December 2013, Ferguson retained the services of a commercial shredding company and directed that the Paymaster business client records be shredded and removed from the Paymaster offices.
Ferguson, 48, Washington, MO, pled guilty to one felony count of mail fraud and one felony count of money laundering before United States District Judge E. Richard Webber. Sentencing has been set for November 6, 2014.
Additionally, Ferguson is subject to a forfeiture allegation, which will require the forfeiture to the government all money derived from the illegal activity.
Mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000; money laundering carries a maximum of five years. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.