Monday, July 24, 2017
NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a scheme to defraud a trucking company out of more than $900,000, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Angel D. Vidal, 25, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to Count 1 of an indictment charging him with wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:
Lisa Popewiny, 55, of Clifton, New Jersey, was the payroll clerk at Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc., a Clifton-based company that provided transportation and freight services to various public and private entities located in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere. From June 2012 to April 2015, Popewiny, Vidal, and his two brothers, Angel Gabriel Vidal, 23, and Miguel Vidal, 23, a former truck driver for the company, engaged in a scheme to defraud the company out of $920,380. On June 26, 2017, Angel Gabriel Vidal pleaded guilty before Judge Arleo to Count 2 of an indictment charging him with wire fraud. On March 30, 2017, Miguel Vidal pleaded guilty to an information charging him with wire fraud. Popewiny is scheduled to stand trial on Oct. 2, 2017.
Popewiny allegedly falsified payroll records in order to generate fraudulent paychecks payable to non-existent employees, including the Vidal brothers. All of the Vidal brothers have admitted to allowing the use of their personal identifying information to generate the fraudulent paychecks. The three men then converted the checks, many of which were deposited into their bank accounts and then funneled out of the accounts in cash. Miguel Vidal admitted to recruiting other individuals to provide their personal information so that Popewiny could allegedly falsely add them to the payroll. Over the course of the scheme, Popewiny allegedly input false hours for at least 12 different individuals. The scheme came to light when owners of the company, in an effort to investigate suspected fraud, distributed the payroll checks to employees – a task normally completed by Popewiny. After all of the payroll checks had been distributed, several paychecks remained unclaimed that turned out to be fraudulently issued.
The charge to which Angel D. Vidal and his brothers pleaded guilty carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2017.
Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick credited criminal investigators in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and postal inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn, with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division.
The charges and allegations against Popewiny are merely accusations, and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.