Former Lakeside CFO Sentenced to Federal Jail in Fraud Case

The former chief financial officer of a former car dealership Erie who was part of a federal fraud investigation was sentenced in federal court on Friday to two years and eight months in prison for his alleged involvement in the crime.

Chad Bednarski, 49, of Erie, who pleaded guilty in September to one count of fraudulent conspiracy, was also sentenced to two years on probation, to pay restitution totaling nearly $ 1.7 million together with co-accused Andy Gabler, and to pay a Fine of $ 1,000, based on the sentence handed down by US District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter in US District Court in Erie on Friday afternoon.

Baxter followed a request from Bednarski and his lawyer, Ken Bickel, by condemning Bednarski below the recommended guidelines range, which for Bednarski was from a minimum of three years and five months to a maximum of four years and three months. .

Following:Former Erie car dealership Andy Gabler has requested house arrest in a $ 1.7 million fraud case. He got jail time

Bickel argued in court on Friday that Bednarski, who had never been in conflict with the law, admitted what he had done was wrong and had cooperated with authorities.

Baxter noted in her sentence that she took into consideration Bednarski’s remorse, his acceptance of responsibility and his lack of criminal history.

Bednarski, who was the chief financial officer of Lakeside Chevrolet, and Gabler, 52, who owned the dealership and other dealers from the late Lakeside Auto Group, were accused by federal investigators of illegal activities, including reporting false sales vehicles and the submission of falsified information. on loan documents.

The indictments against Bednarski and Gabler in August 2019 alleged that they either sold vehicles “with confidence” or did not use the proceeds from the sale of vehicles to repay bank loans, known as “Ground debt” as required and failed to notify their lender, S&T Bank, of Indiana, Pa., When they sold vehicles purchased using “off plan financing.”

Following:Car dealership Erie Gabler pleads guilty to fraud case

Gabler also pleaded guilty to one count of fraudulent conspiracy and was sentenced Thursday to four years and three months in federal prison.

Bickel said in court on Friday that Bednarski did not “tell the truth to power” as part of the scheme because Gabler was the person in power and Bednarski was just an employee who did not challenge the actions from his boss. The only thing Bednarski benefited from was the ability to keep his job, Bickel said.

“He was not the aggressor here. He was just following orders,” he said.

Bednarski told Baxter he understood what he had done was wrong, and he never denied it. He apologized to his family and friends and told the judge he understood he deserved punishment.

“I will continue to obey the law and do what needs to be done,” he said.

Assistant US Attorney Christian Trabold told Baxter that the scheme Bednarski confessed to participating in was not related to an error or accounting error, but was a long-term fraud scheme in which Bednarski “was unmistakably” implied”.

Trabold told the judge that deterrence is a critical factor in sentencing in these types of cases, not only for the accused but for the general public. The sentence handed down can have a strong impact in the community, he said.

“This kind of conduct is going to cause a person to pay a very dear and very heavy price,” Trabold said.

Contact Tim Hahn at Follow him on Twitter @ETNhahn.

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