Have you ever wondered how someone defrauds a business of a bunch of money, and then gets hired by another company that gives the person authority over money so they can embezzle all over again? Me too!
This Milwaukee-area story caught my eye last week. Jason Matthews has been charged with stealing around $850,000 from Pella Windows and Doors, a division of VerHalen Inc. It is alleged that he and Roland Veshi conspired to cause Pella to issue fraudulent payments
Matthews was the retail installation manager from 2014 to 2019, and was responsible for selecting and hiring subcontractors and approving payments. In 2016, he started approving payments to two companies owned by Veshi: Home Pro Exteriors and Advanced Construction Services.
The payments were supposedly for services related to checking job sites for lead safety after installation. But Pella and VerHalen say that no such services are needed and this was nothing more than a kickback scheme.
It is alleged that the fraudulent payments to Veshi’s companies totaled almost $867,000, with almost $154,000 being kicked back to Matthews.
Funny enough, Matthews pleaded guilty in 2020 to a similar case that was charged in 2016. In that case, Jason Matthews stole more than $232,000 from his employer, Associated Materials, by issuing fraudulent checks to a consulting business he owned, JMJ Exteriors.
That scheme involved telling his employer that a legitimate vendor to the company opened a second business, JMJ Exteriors. The company was therefore willing to issue payments to that business, believing it was owned and operated by a known subcontractor. In reality, it was a shell owned by Matthews and the payments were for no services. The fraud occurred between 2011 and 2014.
So how does a fraudster like this get hired at another company and get authority to approve payments and defraud all over again? In this case, Jason Matthews went from one company to the other in 2014. The fraud in the first case was not charged until 2016, so it is likely that the second company had no idea of what happened at Associated Materials.
I have to wonder when Associated Materials learned of the fraud, and if that was the reason Matthews left the company. Or did Matthews leave the company for the job at Pella Windows, and his fraud was later discovered?
We’re probably all wondering where Jason Matthews works now and whether his current employer did a background check and found his criminal charges or verified prior employment. It’s sad when people are put in a position to steal this type of money from their employers.