Two Utah residents have been sentenced to prison for an elaborate scheme involving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud and a related trucking bribery plot.
Hubert Ivan Ugarte 52, and Lisa Bradshaw Rowberry, 49, were both sentenced for illegally obtaining a PPP loan for Frisbu Trucking, Incorporated, where both worked, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rowberry was sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison.
Ugarte was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison, to run concurrently with a previous sentence that is related to the the bribery of officials at the Utah FedEx Ground Hub.
Ugarte owned multiple trucking companies, including Frisbu Trucking.
Prosecutors say that Ugarte hired Rowberry to work for Frisbu after she was fired as an Assistant Vice President of U.S. Bank for engaging in financial transactions with Ugarte that violated the company’s ethical policies.
After Ugarte was indicted by a federal grand jury in the FedEx bribery scheme, his trucking companies struggled because they were dependent on business with the FedEx Ground Hub.
In order to keep the company afloat, Ugarte and Rowberry obtained a $210,000 PPP loan, but failed to disclose the bribery indictment.
Earlier this year, Ugarte pleaded guilty to fraud after he admitted to paying approximately $490,000 in bribes to Utah FedEx Ground (FXG) senior linehaul manager, Ryan Lee Mower in exchange for several delivery routes from FXG that Ugarte would not have qualified for under FXG’s established policies. The scheme allegedly netted Ugarte’s trucking companies $24 million dollars during a seven year period between 2012 and 2019.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office details the scheme:
“In order to carry out the scheme, Ugarte and the FXG manager worked to obscure the ownership of Ugarte’s many trucking companies by filing false compliance reports with FXG in order to award Ugarte with more trucking routes than one business owner was entitled to under established FXG policies. As a result, Ugarte was allowed to operate at least 45 trucking routes originating from the Salt Lake FXG hub, greatly exceeding the FXG limit of only 15 trucks for the Salt Lake City hub. This practice, known as “over scaling” in the contract shipping industry, along with the payment of bribes to the FXG manager, would have resulted in the automatic termination of Ugarte’s contracts if discovered by authorities at FXG. Throughout the scheme, Ugarte’s companies received approximately $135,000,000 in gross payments from FXG, resulting in net profits to his trucking companies of approximately $24,000,000.“
The FBI, IRS, and the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General conducted investigations into the case.