PM Twp. man enters plea for fraud against carferry.

April 16, 2020

PM Twp. man enters plea for fraud against carferry.

GRAND RAPIDS — A Pere Marquette Township man charged with felony bank fraud and federal income tax offenses has entered a plea in federal court. Paul Patrick Piper, 57, of Pere Marquette Township, signed a plea agreement on April 9 with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids, however his hearings have been delayed until June.

Piper, who had worked for many years as the financial controller for Lake Michigan Carferry and Pere Marquette Shipping, allegedly defrauded various financial institutions and LMC in the amount of at least $550,000 by overriding normal accounting systems and writing checks directly to himself and to two of his affiliated company owners on the checks, or used a signature stamp without the authorization of the owners of LMC.

He allegedly hid the transactions in the account system by booking the checks to an insurance expense code and by otherwise making false entries to balance company accounts.

Additionally, he is being accused of filing false personal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service because he supposedly knowingly failed to include the income he allegedly stole from LMC, and other income earned from his tax business, Piper Accounting and Taxes, on his federal income tax returns.

According to court papers, Piper is expected to plead guilty to bank fraud and filing a false tax return and will pay restitution for each charge. Minimum restitution to LMC is $550,000. Under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act, all non-governmental victims that are the subject of an order of restitution in a case must be paid in full before the Internal Revenue Service can collect any restitution. According to the plea agreement, Piper will pay the IRS $363,926 in restitution for the tax years 2014 through 2017.

Mason County Sheriff’s Office deputies and detectives, along with special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Piper’s business on Pere Marquette Highway in September 2018.

Bank fraud is a felony punishable by imprisonment up to 30 years along with a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense and a mandatory assessment of $100. Filing a false tax return is punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater, plus a mandatory assessment of $100. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he will also be ordered to pay restitution to his victims and to forfeit certain assets obtained with the proceeds of the offenses, if convicted.

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