Minnesota owner-operator charged with bilking Bobcat out of $426,000

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Minnesota man accused of swindling Bobcat out of more than $426,000 in false invoices and overbillings told police investigators that once he started submitting fraudulent documents “he couldn’t stop,” according to court documents filed in connection with the case.

Mark J. Czywczynski, 38, of Elko New Market, MN, was charged on Feb. 4 with four counts of theft by swindling for submitting fraudulent invoices for loads, as well as overcharging for detention time and empty miles. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $100,000 fine or both. A court date is set for 8:30 a.m on Monday, March 4.

Czywczynski is identified in a probable-cause statement as the owner and operator of Ol’ Skool Transfer. From March of 2011 to August of 2012 Ol’ Skool was under contract with Bobcat Co. to pick up and deliver merchandise stored in Brooklyn Park, Minn., roughly 50 miles south of Elko New Market.

The invoices submitted by Ol’ Skool appeared to show overcharges for detention time and for empty miles. Investigators allege Bobcat was overbilled $33,715 for 45 loads hauled based on empty miles and detention time charges.

Bobcat conducted an audit going back to March of 2011 on all invoices submitted by Ol’ Skool. The audit findings, which were turned over to police, found the company had paid for more than 300 invoices. Of those 300, just over 100 were submitted for loads hauled by Czywczynski’s company, while more than 200 invoices were submitted and paid out for loads that were never hauled. The total amount that Bobcat paid for loads never hauled was $348, 998.

“Our internal auditing procedures revealed suspected fraudulent claims by Ol ‘Skool Transfer and its owner Mark Czywczynski,” Laura Ness Owens, director of communication for Bobcat Company, said in an emailed statement. “Upon discovery of the discrepancies last summer we immediately turned over the information to local authorities.”

Court records indicate Czywczynski is currently on felony probation stemming from a February 2009 incident in which he was also charged with two felony counts of theft by swindling. According to court records, the 2009 charge stemmed from allegations by seven men who said Czywczynski had hired them to haul loads for him.

The drivers were recruited through ads placed on the website Craigslist. When the truckers got in touch with Czywczynski, he told them there would be a delay of three weeks to 30 days before they received their first paychecks. All of the victims later told police investigators that they wound up waiting as long as six weeks before receiving payment.

Some of the drivers also said Czywczynski came up with multiple excuses, such as bank errors or postal errors. One victim told police that he was told three different times that Czywczynski’s grandmother died, causing the delay.

Under a plea agreement, Czywczynski pleaded guilty to one count and was ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $128,705. A hearing on his probation is also scheduled for March 4.

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