Four charged in $900,000 payroll fraud scheme at New Jersey trucking company

By Land Line staff | 6/6/2016

Four people have been arrested and charged with stealing more than $900,000 from a New Jersey-based trucking company, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The four defendants include two brothers, a former truck driver and a payroll clerk at a Clifton, N.J.-based Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc.

The defendants are: Lisa Popewiny, 53, of Clifton, and brothers Angel D. Vidal, 24 and Angel Gabriel Vidal, 22, of Paterson, N.J.; and Miguel Vidal, 22, of Jersey City, N.J. All are charged by complaint with one count of wire fraud. Federal authorities arrested Popewiny, Angel D. Vidal and Angel Gabriel Vidal on June 2. Miguel Vidal was arrested June 3.

According to the complaint, Popewiny was the payroll clerk at Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc, a Clifton company that provided transportation and freight services to various public and private entities located in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere. From June 2012 to April 2015, Popewiny, Angel D. Vidal, Angel Gabriel Vidal, and Miguel Vidal – a former truck driver for the company – allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud the company out of $920,380.

The complaint alleges that Popewiny falsified payroll records in order to generate fraudulent paychecks payable to non-existent employees. Angel D. Vidal, Angel Gabriel Vidal, and Miguel Vidal – none of whom were working for the company during the alleged scheme – then converted the paychecks, many of which were deposited into their bank accounts and then funneled out in cash. The scheme came to light when owners of the company, in an effort to investigate suspected fraud, distributed the payroll checks to employees – a task normally completed by Popewiny. After all of the payroll checks had been distributed, six paychecks remained, which turned out to be fraudulently issued. Further investigation revealed that Popewiny input false hours for at least 12 different individuals.

The count of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

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