More than two years after admitting his role in a multimillion-dollar theft and fraud scheme at Castalia Farms, the former manager of Owens-Illinois, Inc.'s corporate retreat was sentenced Monday 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 decade-long 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 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,” Mr. 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 same charges. Jones admitted to having his employer, Kyklos Bearing, pay false invoices to Construction Equipment & Supply.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.
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