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FBI Impersonator Held in $225K Swindle

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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A former Ohio real-estate executive has been charged with impersonating a federal agent and diverting money from FBI construction contracts to defraud several companies of more than $225,000.

Robert J. Berryhill, 51, of Aurora, OH, is accused of creating a fictitious company as a way to siphon money from federal construction projects for his personal use.

He used the money to restore his vintage Corvette sports car, according to prosecutors, citing a nine-count criminal information filed against Berryhill on April 3.

Vintage Corvette
Kowloonese / Wikimedia Commons

Prosecutors say Robert J. Berryhill used the money to have his vintage Corvette (not pictured) restored and line his pockets with more than $225,000.

Berryhill, who served as the senior vice president of Carnegie Management and Development Corp. of Westlake, OH, also allegedly posed as a FBI employee to demand that a false invoice be paid.

‘Pockets Lined’

Berryhill is charged with five counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and one count each of aggravated identity theft and false personation of an officer or employee of the United States, according to Steven M. Dettelbach, Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“This defendant is accused of abusing the trust of his employer, his colleagues and his customers in an effort to enrich himself,” said Dettelbach. “He is accused of using public contracts as a way to get his Corvette restored and his pockets lined with hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The mail and wire fraud charges each carry up to 20 years in prison; the identity theft, up to two years; and the impersonation charge, up to three years. However, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Berryhill was “likely looking at a little over six years” in prison.

FBI Building Contracts

Berryhill's scheme included two construction projects for FBI offices in Indiana and Tennessee, according to prosecutors. Carnegie is a privately held real-estate company with a business division that focuses specifically on government office buildings.

In August 2007 and March 2009, two Carnegie-managed companies, Knoxbi Company LLC and Indy-Fedreau LLC, won contracts to construct FBI offices in Knoxville, TN, and Indianapolis, respectively.

The on-site general contractor for the Tennessee building was Blaine Construction Company; the general contractor for the Indiana office was Welty Building Company, according to the information.

Indianapolis FBI office
fbi.gov

Berryhill was charged with creating a fictitious company to submit false invoices to Welty Building Co., the general contractor on the FBI's new Indianapolis office.

From August 2008 to September 2009, Berryhill allegedly defrauded his employer by creating a fictitious contracting company and submitting false invoices to the general contractors on those projects.

He was fired in 2009, after the fraud was discovered, according to a news report on Cleveland.com. Berryhill had worked for Carnegie for more than a decade, the report said.

Fake Company, False Invoices

The criminal information says Berryhill made up a contracting company called American Excavators Company (AEC) for the purpose of submitting invoices to divert Carnegie monies to his personal use.

He also created false invoices in the name of Ore Enterprises—the Pennsylvania company Berryhill hired to restore his vintage Corvette—and then submitted those documents to the general contractors.

The general contractors paid the invoices, then passed on the cost to Knoxbi and Indy-Fedreau for final payment, according to the information.

Overall, Berryhill raked in at least $225,919, prosecutors alleged.

Impersonating FBI Employee

Berryhill is also accused of pretending to be an FBI employee identified as “W.C.M.” to collect on a payment.

On July 28, 2008, he demanded that Blaine Construction pay an invoice from Ore regarding the construction of the FBI building in Knoxville, according to the information.

The case resulted from an investigation conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation and was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Patton.

   

Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Construction; Contractors; Criminal acts; Ethics; Office Buildings

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