Springfield News-Sun

Man pleads guilty to stealing $750K from Honda via defunct Springfield non-profit

A man is accused of using a defunct Springfield non-profit to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Honda America Inc.

Charles Michael Stratton, 62, of Fairborn, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to wire fraud and money laundering. He is accused of conducting a scheme that stole more than $750,000 from Honda.

Stratton was the facilities manager for Honda in Marysville from 2008 until March 2015, according to an indictment filed in the case. In his role, he oversaw various vendor contracts, including those for security services, janitorial services, food service and uniform/laundry on behalf of Honda, according to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office.

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The attorney’s office and the indictment explains a complicated scheme Stratton used to defraud money.

“The Acrux Investigation Agency, located in Lakeview, provided physical and personal security services for Honda. Surmount, also located in Lakeview, was a subsidiary of Acrux and provided monitoring services to Honda,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office. “Stratton executed a scheme to defraud Honda using Acrux and Surmount by creating multiple purchase orders for payments in amounts just under $100,000, a threshold in which additional oversight and approval is required. Using these purchase orders, as well as the main labor contract, Stratton caused Acrux and Surmount to submit false invoices to Honda and instructed them to keep the money in a “future fund.’”

Some of that money then was used to pay Stratton directly or through his organization, SAFE (Springfield Area Fastball Elites, Inc.) the attorney’s office said. SAFE was an Ohio non-profit created by Stratton to support local baseball teams; however, SAFE lost its classification as a 501(c)(3) in 2010, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

“Stratton also defrauded at least three other Honda vendors through the solicitation of donations for SAFE between 2012 and 2014, when it no longer held its tax-exempt status,” the attorney’s office said. “Stratton received multiple donation checks, which he would either deposit in part to the SAFE bank account, while keeping a portion of the donation in cash for himself, or deposit the donation check entirely into his personal account. Only a fraction of the funds received through donations were actually spent in furtherance of SAFE’s mission.”

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As part of his plea, Stratton agreed to pay $750,635.95 in restitution to Honda and $10,000 in restitution to Scioto Industrial Services, U.S. attorney’s office said. He is facing a maximum of 30 years in prison.

A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered in the case and Stratton is due back to the court on Jan. 15, according to online court records

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