Former Honda exec pleads to $750K theft


A former Honda employee pleaded guilty Wednesday to defrauding the company of more than $750,000.
Charles Michael Stratton, 62, of Fairborn, was charged with 38 counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering.
He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Stratton acted as the Facilities Manager for Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. from 2008 until March 2015. While he held this position, he oversaw vendor contracts, including those for security, janitorial and food services, as well as uniforms and laundry.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, Stratton pled guilty to executing a scheme that defrauded Honda by creating multiple purchase orders for two companies that provided security and monitoring services to his former employer.
Stratton admitted to using the false orders, along with the main labor contract, to cause Acrux Investigation Agency and Surmount, both Lakeview-based companies, to submit false invoices to Honda.
He avoided oversight by submitting purchase orders that were just under $100,000, the threshold at which additional approval is required.
He then instructed the two companies to keep the money in a “future fund.”
An FBI investigation found money from the future fund was used to pay Stratton directly, or through an organization he created called Springfield Area Fastball Elites, Inc. (SAFE).
SAFE previously held non-profit status as an organization designed to support local baseball teams, but lost its 501(c)(3) classification in 2010.
Aside from Acrux and Surmount, Stratton defrauded at least three other Honda vendors by soliciting donations for SAFE after it lost its tax-exempt status, between 2012 and 2014.
He received multiple donation checks, which he either split between the SAFE bank account and a cash portion he kept, or deposited the entire check in his personal account.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated only a small portion of the donations were actually spent to benefit SAFE.
As part of Stratton’s plea, he agreed to pay $750,635.95 in restitution to Honda and $10,000 in restitution to Scioto Industrial Services.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2018. His sentencing date has not yet been set.

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