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Judge sentences man in scheme to defraud furniture maker

May 3, 2017
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A federal judge has sentenced a man to prison for his role in defrauding a West Michigan furniture maker.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge said yesterday that Spring Lake resident Jerry Lee Akers, 54, was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison for his part in defrauding Zeeland-based Herman Miller in a vendor invoicing scheme.

Paul Maloney, U.S. District judge, imposed the sentence.

The judge also ordered Akers to serve two years of supervised release, pay $507,309.14 in restitution and forfeit an additional $507,309.14 to the government.

The Business Journal previously reported that Akers pled guilty in December to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. He admitted conspiring with Coopersville resident Kevin Grimm to devise and execute a scheme to defraud Herman Miller between June 2010 and July 2015, using Grimm’s company, KJ Gas Transportation.

With Akers’ assistance inside the company, Grimm submitted fraudulent invoices for payment for natural gas services he never provided. The fraud scheme generated $1,772,726 in payments to Grimm’s company.

A grand jury indicted Grimm in February for his role in the offense, and he pled guilty on March 21. Maloney will sentence him on July 10.

Before Akers’ sentencing, Akers and Grimm collectively returned $1,265,417 of the illegal proceeds they obtained during the fraud.

Akers’ sentence reflects, in part, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s recommendation that he receive a reduced sentence for his assistance to law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of Grimm.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to investigate fraud schemes of all types,” said David Gelios, special agent in charge of the FBI Detroit division.

“To those that would line their own pockets illegally at the expense of others, the warning should be clear: the FBI will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring those responsible for financial fraud to justice.”

The Grand Rapids office of the FBI investigated the matter, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher O’Connor prosecuted the case. 

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