Law & Justice

Paterson Man Admits to Defrauding Local Trucking Company of $900,000


NEWARK, NJ - A Paterson man admitted his role Monday in a scheme to defraud a Clifton-based trucking company out of more than $900,000, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.   

Angel D. Vidal, 25, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to Count 1 of an indictment charging him with wire fraud.

According to Fitzpatrick, Lisa Popewiny, 55, was the payroll clerk at Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc., which transportation and freight services. Between June 2012 and April 2015, Popewiny, Vidal, and his two brothers, Angel Gabriel Vidal, 23, and Miguel Vidal, 23, a former truck driver for the company, engaged in a scheme to defraud the company out of $920,380.

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Last month, Angel Gabriel Vidal pleaded guilty before Judge Arleo to Count 2 of an indictment charging him with wire fraud. In March, Miguel Vidal pleaded guilty to an information charging him with wire fraud. Popewiny is scheduled to stand trial on Oct. 2.

Popewiny allegedly falsified payroll records in order to generate fraudulent paychecks payable to non-existent employees, including the Vidal brothers.

All three Vidal brothers have admitted to allowing the use of their personal identifying information to generate the fraudulent paychecks. The three men then converted the checks, many of which were deposited into their bank accounts and then funneled out of the accounts in cash.

Miguel Vidal admitted to recruiting other individuals to provide their personal information so that Popewiny could allegedly falsely add them to the payroll. Over the course of the scheme, Popewiny allegedly input false hours for at least 12 different individuals.

According to the court's press release, "The scheme came to light when owners of the company, in an effort to investigate suspected fraud, distributed the payroll checks to employees – a task normally completed by Popewiny. After all of the payroll checks had been distributed, several paychecks remained unclaimed that turned out to be fraudulently issued."

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