Former Aurora business owner pleads guilty to multi-million dollar fraud schemes
Release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Missouri:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A former Aurora, Missouri, business owner pleaded guilty in federal court today to a series of multi-million dollar fraud schemes.
Russell Grundy, 50, of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, formerly of Aurora, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to two counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application, and one count of money laundering.
Grundy was the owner of several companies that focused on advanced technologies, ranging from software development to computer security to addressing the software and hardware technological needs of its clientele. Grundy’s companies included Innovative Objects, LLC, PILR Technology, LLC, Choice Technologies, LLC, Wyerless, LLC, and Audio Input, LLC.
Land O’Lakes/Nutra Blend Fraud Scheme
Grundy (through his company Innovative Objects) was contracted by Land O’Lakes, Inc., and its subsidiary, Nutra Blend, LLC, from January 2004 to Sept. 27, 2015, to create propriety software to inventory, track, and coordinate the disbursement of products. Grundy also contracted with Land O’Lakes and Nutra Blend to provide equipment and technical support for the use, upkeep, and maintenance of the software.
Grundy falsely told Land O’Lakes and Nutra Blend that third party software programs were built into that proprietary software and were essential to the successful operation of the software. Grundy claimed that some of the payments made to Innovative Objects were remitted to third party license holders. In reality, there were no third party licensee fees; instead, Grundy kept those payments for his personal or unrelated expenses.
Land O’Lakes and Nutra Blend paid more than $1.3 million in fraudulent license fees between 2012 and 2015.
Miami Nations Enterprise Fraud Scheme
Grundy engaged Miami Nations Enterprise, a subsidiary company of the Miami Nations Tribe, in negotiations to provide loans and to purchase a controlling interest in all of Grundy’s technology-based companies.
Grundy falsely told Miami Nations Enterprise that his companies had been awarded a $3.5 million contract from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., to develop and provide information technology services. Grundy presented numerous e-mails, invoices, conditional award letters, and other documents to support his false claims. Miami Nations Enterprise loaned Grundy the money to cover the costs associated with software and hardware purchases and training necessary to obtain the $3.5 million Wal-Mart contract. Grundy admitted today that he instead used those funds for his own personal expenses, including building a new home in Charleston, South Carolina.
On Aug. 24, 2014, Miami Nations Enterprise paid an additional $2 million to purchase a 70 percent interest in Grundy’s companies.
Officials with Miami Nations Enterprise later discovered that neither Grundy nor any of his companies had been awarded any contract with Wal-Mart, and determined that the e-mails, conditional contract award, invoices, and bank deposits Grundy had used to support his claims were fraudulently created.
False Information on Loan Application
Grundy applied for three loans from UMB Bank on Oct. 17, 2014. Grundy specifically admitted that he fraudulently obtained a $5,440,800 loan by providing false information in the loan application.
Grundy falsely claimed that Land O’Lakes had agreed to a 20-year lease for warehouse space that he wanted to build using the loans he sought from the bank. Based on lease agreements provided to UMB Bank officials, Grundy claimed he would receive $18 million in future income.
Grundy admitted that he grossly exaggerated the amount of money to be paid by Land O’Lakes in order to obtain the loans from UMB. Rather than one lease agreement between Grundy and Land O’Lakes to rent the warehouses, there were two lease agreements. One lease agreement was for three years at an amount far less than claimed by Grundy. The second lease agreement was a “month-to-month” lease agreement at an even smaller amount. In reality, the true and accurate leases signed and approved by Land O’Lakes only guaranteed Grundy $540,000 in income.
Under federal statutes, Grundy is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole on each of the wire fraud counts, up to 30 years on the false statements count, and up to 10 years on the money laundering count. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Carney and Casey Clark. It was investigated by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.