Ex-Honda facilities manager defrauded automaker, federal prosecutor says

ajc.com

A Fairborn man is charged federally on 44 counts of wire fraud and money laundering involving a scheme that prosecutors said he used to cheat Honda of America in Marysville out of at least $100,000 over several years.

The indictment was filed Wednesday against Charles Michael Stratton, 61, who was facilities manager for Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. from 2008 until March 2015.

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 the indictment announced by Benjamin C. Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division.

>> FBI raid results in weapons charges against homeowner

Acrux Investigation Agency, in Lakeview, Ohio, 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 indictment, 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 is accused of using Acrux and Surmount to submit false invoices to Honda and instructing them to keep the money in a "future fund."

Money allocated to the future fund was then used, in part, to pay Stratton directly or through his organization, SAFE -- Springfield Area Fastball Elites, Inc.

SAFE was an Ohio non-profit Stratton created to support local baseball teams. SAFE lost its classification as a 501(c)(3) in 2010.

Stratton also is charged with defrauding 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.

>> Police on the hunt for serial bank robbery suspect

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.

Stratton is charged with 38 counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, according to Glassman. Money laundering carries a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, according to his office.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com