Mark Allen Hartley, the owner of Patriot Computers, a Virginia corporation, was sentenced last week to 36 months in prison, on multiple wire fraud charges related to the theft of $809,205.43 from 434 victims.
According to the four count indictment and facts admitted in court by the defendant, from December 1, 2012, through April 14, 2014, Hartley, age 56, 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 First Citizens 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. The average loss Hartley caused to each of his 434 individual victims was $1,864. The court ordered full restitution for each individual victim in the amount of the loss they sustained, in addition to restitution to First Citizens Bank for the loss of $126,338.38 it sustained due to Hartley’s scheme.
In entering his plea 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.