MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Texas man has been sentenced to more than 16 years in federal prison for helping bilk nearly $400,000 from his former Eagan employer and then faking an illness to delay his trial.
Clayton "Craig" Hogeland, now of Aurora, Texas, was convicted in December 2011 of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and income tax evasion.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz also found the 43-year-old obstructed justice by faking a life-threatening medical condition that caused delays for his trial and sentencing hearing, according to the Star Tribune (http://bit.ly/Yvfm1G). He was sentenced Friday.
His friend Jeffrey Cole Bennett, 52, of Arlington, Tenn., was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for his role in the fraud. He and Hogeland, who was his boss, must make restitution totaling $393,183. Hogeland's wife, Jennifer Rose Hogeland, 39, was convicted of three counts of income tax evasion and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Hogeland's former Minnesota employer, Advantage Transportation, connects freight companies with trucking firms nationwide.
The prosecution argued that Hogeland, a former general manager at Advantage, created four companies — three of them fake — and had them bill Advantage for products, most of which were never provided. Hogeland approved payment and Bennett paid the Hogelands kickbacks, which Jennifer Hogeland deposited in their bank accounts.
On the eve of an April 2011, trial date in Minnesota, Hogeland checked himself into a Texas hospital for dangerously high blood potassium levels. The trial was delayed until the following June for medical reasons, then September before finally starting in November 2011.
Further health-related delays stretched out the trial before his conviction on Dec. 6, 2011. He was placed in custody Jan. 8, 2013, and the erratic blood potassium readings stopped. Six days later, his wife reported to federal authorities that she found in his belongings four zip-top bags containing what turned out to be potassium chloride.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com