Rockville man gets 3-year prison sentence in $1.7M fraud scheme

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A Maryland man has been sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty in what prosecutors said was a complex ploy to defraud his employer of more than $1.7 million.

Rockville resident Rakesh Kaushal, 66, is set to spend the next three years behind bars and three additional years under supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Federal prosecutors said Kaushal collaborated with an accomplice to defraud his own employer, a Beltsville company which provided construction and design services to federal agencies.

Between August 2015 and January 2017, Kaushal admitted to working with Ivan Victor Thrane, the owner of three construction companies in Dickerson and Beltsville, to review and submit fraudulent payment requests for work supposedly performed by Thrane’s three companies. In reality, the work had not been completed nor in some cases even worked on the projects for which payment was requested.

Here’s how the scheme worked, according to prosecutors: Kaushal prepared the phony payment requests, which he would email to Thrane or another individual on his behalf for a signature. As a project manager for the targeted company, Kaushal then approved the requests and initiated a transfer of funds to Thrane’s companies. Thrane would then funnel some of the stolen funds to Kaushal.

Kaushal’s employer, identified in a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland only as “Victim Company 1,” first noticed the overbilling in December 2016.

With the defrauded company hot on their heels, Kaushal and Thrane attempted to cover their tracks, prosecutors said. They prearranged correspondence via their work emails in which Kaushal would consult Thrane about overpaid funds, and Thrane would promise to consult with his accountant who would often be “off for the week.”

There was, in fact, no accountant at all.

Kaushal continued to move large sums of money related to the fraud even after his employer had caught on. In January 2017, he wired a total of $650,000 from a personal bank account to India. He later admitted to using some of the stolen funds to purchase a condo there for a family member.

His company eventually filed suit against him, successfully obtaining a judgment of over $1,740,000. Kaushal then filed for bankruptcy. Between September 2015 and December 2016, the victim company was found to have paid over $3.2 million to Thrane’s companies.

Thrane pleaded guilty to his own role in the scheme last August. He is still awaiting sentencing. Kaushal has also been ordered to pay restitution, with the exact amount to be determined at a future hearing.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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