Man lands 5 years in prison for role in multi-mil­lion-dol­lar fraud scheme

Dayton Daily News - - LOCAL & STATE - By Jennifer Fee­han

More than two TOLEDO — years af­ter ad­mit­ting his role in a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar theft and fraud scheme at Castalia Farms, the for­mer man­ager of Owens-Illi­nois, Inc.’s cor­po­rate re­treat has been sen­tenced to an agreed-upon term of five years in prison.

Michael Con­rad, 50, of Castalia pleaded guilty Sept. 25, 2015, to con­spir­acy to com­mit wire fraud and wire fraud for his part in a decade­long scheme of sub­mit­ting phony in­voices to O-I for goods and ser­vices that were paid for, but never re­ceived by O-I.

Fed­eral prose­cu­tors said the to­tal loss to O-I was nearly $6.6 mil­lion.

U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary pointed out Mon­day that Con­rad worked for O-I at Castalia Farms since 1984 and had man­aged the prop­erty since the 1990s.

“You were, Mr. Con­rad, in a spe­cial po­si­tion,” the judge said. “You abused the trust given to you by your em­ployer, Owens-Illi­nois. You were pro­vided a po­si­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity, and you abused that po­si­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

O-I owned Castalia Farms since the 1930s, us­ing it as a cor­po­rate re­treat, con­fer­ence cen­ter, and a venue for en­ter­tain­ing clients. The grounds in­cluded lodg­ing and din­ing facilities as well as a trap­shoot­ing range and trout fish­ing stream. It closed in 2012 and was sold at auc­tion in 2013.

Judge Zouhary did not im­me­di­ately or­der resti­tu­tion but asked that at­tor­neys for Con­rad and his co-de­fen­dants file briefs in the mat­ter by Dec. 14. He said he would is­sue a de­ci­sion on resti­tu­tion soon af­ter.

De­fense at­tor­ney Troy Wise­hart said Con­rad was re­morse­ful, felt ashamed, and had been “pub­licly hu­mil­i­ated in his com­mu­nity.” “He’s a guy with a re­ally good heart, and I think that he wanted to get along in the com­mu­nity and make friends with a lot of these big-wigs in the com­mu­nity,” Wise­hart said. “I think that as part of be­ing friends with them and be­ing a good-hearted per­son, he let him­self get dragged into this whole mess.”

Judge Zouhary asked Con­rad what hap­pened to his “good heart?”

“The good heart was there be­cause I did a lot for a lot of peo­ple,” Con­rad re­sponded. “I have no ex­cuse. I got caught up in the greed and just .. the ex­cite­ment of it.”

As part of his plea agree­ment, Con­rad tes­ti­fied last sum­mer at the trial of Scott Wag­ner, owner of Con­struc­tion Equip­ment & Sup­ply, in San­dusky — one of the com­pa­nies that sub­mit­ted false in­voices to O-I and gave kick­backs to Con­rad.

In July, Wag­ner, 53, of Perkins Town­ship was found guilty of nu­mer­ous charges for sub­mit­ting phony in­voices to O-I and to Kyk­los Bear­ing In­ter­na­tional, LLC, in San­dusky.

Wag­ner and Tom Wal­ters, Jr., 42, of Swan­ton later pleaded guilty to con­spir­acy to com­mit mail fraud for a sim­i­lar scheme per­pe­trated against Sawyer Struc­tural Steel Inc., in Hol­land. Wag­ner and Wal­ters are to be sen­tenced in fed­eral court Nov. 20.

Two other co-de­fen­dants are to be sen­tenced Wednesday.

Robert Bel­lamy, 45, an auto me­chanic from San­dusky, pleaded guilty in 2015 to con­spir­acy to com­mit wire fraud and wire fraud for sub­mit­ting phony in­voices to O-I for ve­hi­cle re­pairs that ei­ther were not done or were done on ve­hi­cles not owned by O-I.

An­thony K. Jones, 61, of San­dusky also pleaded guilty in 2015 to the charges.

LORI KING/THE (TOLEDO) BLADE

Owens-Illi­nois world head­quar­ters in Per­rys­burg.

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