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Former Fresno Resident Pleads Guilty to $1.2 Million Surety Bond Fraud Scheme

On May 26, 2015, Able Carreon, former chief executive officer of Tripartite Escrow Corporation (Tripartite), Fresno, California, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme involving surety bonds and government contracts. According to the plea agreement, bond packages submitted by Carreon contained false statements and fraudulent documents.

The investigation revealed that between April 2005 and May 2011, Carreon and Tripartite defrauded the United States and private companies by offering bonding services to prospective government contractors that included false bid, performance, and payment bonds to secure and insure government contracts. Surety bonds are required for certain federal government contracts. If a contractor defaults, the surety bonds compensate the government for the financial loss incurred. Under federal regulations, in order to be acceptable the bonding company must pledge  assets with a value equal to or exceeding the amount of each bond, and submit a sworn affidavit disclosing the identity of the surety and verifying the existence and acceptability of the assets under penalty of prosecution.

Once the false and fraudulent performance and payment bonds were accepted by the contracting government agency and work began, the government would make payments on the contract to the contractor, including Carreon's bond premium. The U.S. and government contractors paid for false and fraudulent payments and performance bonds, resulting in a loss of approximately $1.2 million.

We are conducting this investigation with the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security OIG, the General Services Administration OIG, with assistance from the Federal Highway Administration, Western Federal Lands Highway Division.