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Fraudulent billing scheme brings 28-month prison term for man from Springfield

February 11, 2011|edited news release

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A man from Springfield was sentenced last Monday for his role in a nearly $4 million fraud scheme.  U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr ordered Douglas Feller, 38, to serve 28 months in federal prison without parole.  The judge also ordered Feller to pay $738,941 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.  Feller also is ordered to pay an as-yet-undetermined amount of restitution not to exceed $3,882,987 to Yakima Products.

Feller pleaded guilty last Aug. 4 charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of income tax evasion.

The scheme involved submitting fictitious invoices to defraud Yakima Products of approximately $3,992,935.  Yakima operates a luggage/bicycle rack manufacturing and distribution facility in Beaverton, Ore.  During the time of the conspiracies, Yakima also operated a water craft (canoes, kayaks, etc.) manufacturing and distribution facility under the name Watermark Paddlesports, Inc.  Watermark changed its name to Yakima in May 2005. 

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Feller was a transportation consultant and later the director of distribution and logistics for Yakima.  He was a contract employee who worked out of his home in Springfield.  Feller was responsible for approving invoices submitted by the carriers.

Feller admitted he created Cooper Enterprises, a fictitious company that Feller used to bill Yakima for freight that was purportedly hauled by Cooper Enterprises, but which in fact, was never hauled.  Feller received approximately $3,759,370 from Yakima, which he deposited in Cooper Enterprises bank accounts. 

Feller was assisted by Christopher Levato, of Simpsonville, S. C.   Levato represented himself as an agent or employee of Cooper Enterprises and fielded questions from Yakima employees regarding the Cooper Enterprises invoices.  Levato received a portion of the scheme proceeds.  Levato also pleaded guilty and was sentenced for his role in December 2010.

Feller also received more than $110,000 from fictitious invoices that he approved, and which were paid by Yakima, for freight that was purportedly hauled by Southern Logistics, but in fact was never hauled.

In addition, Feller submitted false inflated invoices under the name of United Transport, to Yakima for payment.  Once payment was sent to United Transport, the funds were used to pay legitimate freight charges, and the inflated additional amount was split between Feller and another co-conspirator.  Feller’s role in all schemes was to approve the invoices for payment and submit them to Yakima.  Yakima’s accounting department relied on Feller’s approval of the invoices as the basis for payment.

During the 2004 and 2005 calendar years, Feller had taxable income from the false invoicing schemes in the amount of $1,043,729 and $765,800.  Based on the taxable income figures, Feller had an income tax due of $336,824 in 2004 and $250,803 in 2005.  Feller attempted to evade and defeat the income tax due by failing to file a 2004 or 2005 income tax return, by failing to pay the IRS the income tax owed, and by concealing and attempting to conceal his true and correct income.

Feller agreed the total amount of unpaid taxes due and owing the Internal Revenue Service for tax years 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005, is $738,941.

The IRS and the FBI investigated this case.

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