The former CEO of USA Dry Van Logistics has pleaded guilty in Houston’s federal district court to six counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
On Jan. 20, U.S. Judge Kenneth Hoyt accepted Sergio Fernando Lagos’ plea after two other ex-executives of the Texas-based company entered guilty pleas last September. Ex-COO Aurelio “Jim” Aleman and former comptroller Oscar Barbosa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The three are no longer employed or affiliated with USADV, according to the region’s district attorney.
Aleman and Lagos had entered into a revolving line of credit agreement with GE Capital Corp., secured by USADV’s accounts receivables. By 2010, the maximum borrowing limit was increased to $38 million and advances were justified by submitting borrowing base certificates to GECC.
Between March 2008 and January 2010, Lagos joined in a scheme to fraudulently obtain funds through this revolving line of credit. He schemed to conceal USADV’s declining operating performance and financial results from the creditor.
Lagos signed, prepared and/or directed others to prepare certificates falsely inflating the company’s accounts receivables and caused these to be submitted to GECC. Lagos continued the scheme by directing other employees to manually invoice millions of dollars of fraudulent receivables. He also submitted false financial statements to auditors and GECC.
The company filed for bankruptcy when the truth emerged about its operations and finances. It successfully re-organized under Chapter 11 and currently operates with new owners.
Federal officials estimate the loss to GECC at more than $26 million.. Hoyt will make a final determination of that damage at Lagos’ sentencing April 13. He also could face up 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.