The sentencing of a woman found guilty of defrauding Bandit Industries has been pushed back until mid-February.
47-year-old Lorie Stuer of North Branch owned Stoney Creek Trucking LLC with her husband William. She pleaded guilty on November 25th to three counts of larceny by false pretenses: one for $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony; one for between $20,000 and $50,000, a 15-year felony; and one of between $1,000 and $2,000, a five-year felony.
Stuer was arrested in early May of 2019 following an investigation by the Isabella County Sheriff’s Office. The scam was uncovered by two Bandit employees during an audit of shipping costs in 2018.
Detective Sergeant Dave Pattersonn pieced the case together and discovered falsified records submitted to a third-party company that handled invoicing.
The scheme started in 2011 when Stuer fraudulently billed Bandit Industries for an additional $4,850. It escalated every year until the company was taken for $1.47 million. Patterson’s investigation said the company was taken for a total of $3.65 million.
Bandit filed a lawsuit in 2018 to try to recover the money against Stuer and a third-party invoicing company eCapital. Earlier this month, the invoicing company filed a countersuit against Bandit, asking them to pay outstanding invoices.
According to the case, Stuer submitted invoices she knew were fraudulent to eCapital and collected money off them. eCapital submitted the invoices to Bandit Industries, which paid them.
eCapital is asking the court to force Bandit Industries to pay $172,225 in invoices it refused to pay after company officers realized they were being overbilled. eCapital also asked the court to force the Stuers to pay it another $730,619 in reimbursable costs for a total of $902,844.
In the case against Bandit, eCapital used portions of a deposition taken of Lorie Stuer by Bandit’s attorney Jerome Galante on Oct. 23, 2019.
In it, Stuer stated that she was given a verbal authorization by a Bandit employee named Brad Teagarden to sign invoices on his behalf because she said he told her he didn’t have time.
A report from Morning Sun stated that this employee does not exist.
Stuer told Galante that because she knew eCapital wouldn’t call Bandit to check on the invoices.
Isabella County Prosecutor David Barberi called the scam more tragic that Bandit is owned by employees. Ultimately, the money Steur stole was taken directly from them.
Stuer’s motive appears to have been aimed at keeping the trucking company afloat, according to Detective Sergeant Dave Pattersonn. His investigation uncovered no evidence that Stuer had either drug or addiction problems.