Luke Steiner, 31, of Minnesota pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Feb.5) to one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, stating that he assisted New York-based MyPayrollHR CEO and Founder Michael Mann defraud two companies, according to multiple reports last week.
Steiner said he helped the 49-year-old Mann allegedly defraud two finance companies out of nearly $13 million between 2013 and 2019. He said he also assisted Mann “and others known and unknown” with illegally obtaining loans for Mann’s companies.
Mann allegedly was the leader of a bank fraud racket worth millions, which eventually cost him MyPayrollHR, his Clifton Park, N.Y. payroll company. He was charged in September with fraud but has not yet entered a plea.
Steiner’s plea indicated charges against others related to Mann’s company could follow. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to three years of supervised release. His sentencing is scheduled on May 27 by Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn.
One of Mann’s companies, ValueWise Corp., served as a consultant to Optum and UnitedHealth, where Steiner was an employee.
Mann reportedly lied that some of his other companies —FocalPointe Group and Weitz & Associates — were owned by Optum.
“The object of the conspiracy was to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in loans from financing companies ... by falsely representing that fictitious invoices from companies owned and controlled by Mann were legitimate and payable by Optum/(UnitedHealth),” according to court documents.
Mann reportedly told the FBI that he owned several firms that he started for fraudulent purposes only.
MyPayrollHR abruptly shuttered on Sept. 5 after Mann’s banks froze his accounts amid suspicions, authorities said. The company handled payroll for roughly 1,000 businesses across the United States.
After being arrested in September, he was released on a $200,000 bond secured by his home and two cars. He faces up to 30 years in prison, a maximum $1 million fine and five years of post-release supervision.