Federal charges have been laid in Illinois against two Indian-origin owners of a suburban bulk-mailing company, accusing them of allegedly swindling the U.S. Postal Service out of at least $16 million.
Yogesh Patel and Arvind Lakkamsani are accused of forging documents and secretly using an official date stamp to fraudulently authenticate payment of postage for than 80 million pieces of mail, according to criminal charges filed June 25, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
A criminal information charges each of the defendants – Patel, 58, of Orlando, Fla., Lakkamsani, 57, of Northbrook, Ill., and David Gargano, 51, of Barrington, Ill. – with one count of mail fraud. Arraignments in U.S. District Court in Chicago have not yet been scheduled. The information is not evidence of guilt, the press release specifies. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Patel and Lakkamsani owned and operated Prodigy Mailing Services Inc., which was based in Bolingbrook and later in Woodridge, Illinois, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Prodigy assembled bulk mailings from customers and provided the mailings – along with allegedly fraudulent payment and verification forms – to the Postal Service for delivery, without paying postage on those mailings. According to the charges, Patel and Lakkamsani allegedly schemed with Gargano, owner of Illinois-based Direct Mail Resources Inc., to fraudulently cause the Postal Service to deliver numerous bulk mailings without payment. The trio is alleged to have forged a Postal Service clerk’s signature on the verification forms and secretly used an official Postal Service date stamp to make it appear that the clerk had authenticated postage, the charges allege.
From 2010 to 2015, the defendants caused a loss to the Postal Service of at least $16 million, according to the charges outlined in the press release.
Gargano’s company, which collected a fee to match customers seeking to make bulk mailings with companies who could perform those services, such as Prodigy, referred two energy companies to Prodigy for bulk mailing services. The two energy companies provided millions of dollars to the defendants to pay the postage for the companies’ bulk mailings.
Prosecutors allege that instead of using those funds to pay the postage, the defendants split the money amongst themselves and used it for their own benefit.