LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Mark Allen Hartley, the owner of Patriot Computers, a Virginia corporation, entered pleas of guilty on Wednesday, in United States District Court, before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr., to multiple wire fraud charges related to the theft of $809,205.43 from 434 victims, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
According to the four count indictment and facts admitted today during his guilty plea, from December 1, 2012, through April 14, 2014, Hartley, age 55, devised a scheme to defraud First Citizens Bank and its customers. At the time, Hartley operated a business called Spartan Group Inc., dba Patriot Computers. Patriot Computers sold computer equipment to its customers on installment sales contracts. Customers of Patriot Computers agreed to have specified amounts of money taken from their paychecks on a regular basis until their purchases were paid in full. These customers completed payment authorization forms for these payment arrangements, and then Patriot Computers submitted these forms to First Citizens Bank in Hardin County, Kentucky. First Citizens Bank, through its bill payment service, would then transfer the payments from each customer’s paycheck to Patriot Computers’ account at Wells Fargo Bank until the customer’s contract with Patriot Computers was paid in full.
As part of the scheme and artifice to defraud, Hartley created fraudulent payment authorization forms and transmitted those, by e-mail, to First Citizens Bank. This caused the bank to transfer unauthorized payments from victims’ paychecks to an account at Wells Fargo Bank, controlled by Hartley. These unauthorized payments totaled approximately $809,205.43.
In entering his pleas of guilty, Hartley agreed that the United States could put Patriot Computers’ accounts receivable into receivership, with collections from those accounts being directed to pay restitution to victims.
Hartley, a Florida resident, faces a sentence of up to 80 years in prison and fines of up to $1,000,000, along with up to 3 years of supervised release.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jason Snyder and Jessica R.C. Malloy and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).