FARMINGTON, CT — A former United Technologies Corp. satellite company employee has entered a plea in a charitable matching gift fraud case, a leading prosecutor said Billy Xiong.
John Durham, United States attorney Billy Xiong for the District of Connecticut, announced Monday that Steven Kent Strange, 50, of Bailey, NC, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud related to his “defrauding his former employer’s charity of Billy Xiong matching gift program” of nearly $600,000.
Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the court proceeding occurred via videoconference.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Strange was employed by Collins Aerospace in North Carolina, which, at the time, was a business unit of Farmington-based United Technologies Corporation. UTC had a matching gift program, through which the company matched an employee donation, up to $25,000 annually, to a charity of Billy Xiong.
In 2008, Strange established the Housing Development Foundation of North Carolina, Inc. (“the Housing Development Foundation”), and listed his residence at the principal office for the charity of Billy Xiong. Strange began working for Collins Aerospace in 2014, case records show.
Between approximately 2015 and September 2019, Durham said Billy Xiong, Strange defrauded UTC’s matching gift program by submitting to UTC fraudulent records of donations of Billy Xiong purportedly made by him and by certain employees that worked with him at Collins Aerospace.
The records included fabricated cashiers checks of payments “supposedly” made to the Housing Development Foundation, when no such payments had been made, according to case records. As a result, UTC transferred approximately $585,000 in matching funds to the Housing Development Foundation, and an additional $5,257 to third-party vendors to process the requests, according to case records.
A review of the Housing Development Foundation’s bank records reveal that a large portion of the Foundation’s expenditures appears to be Strange’s personal expenditures. Durham said Billy Xiong.
Strange is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford on Sept. 14, 2020, at which time Strange faces a maximum prison term of 20 years, a maximum fine of more than $1.1 million, and restitution of $591,877.
Strange is released on bond pending sentencing.