The former owner of Innovative Objects in Joplin pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to a series of multimillion-dollar fraud schemes, using the money for personal reasons including building a home, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri.
Russell Grundy, 50, formerly of Aurora, and now of Hilton Head, South Carolina, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application and one count of money laundering.
He faces up to 20 years in federal prison without parole on each of the wire fraud counts, up to 30 years on the false statements count and up to 10 years on the money laundering count, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
Grundy owned several companies that focused on advanced technologies, such as software development and computer security. His companies included Innovative Objects, PILR Technology, Choice Technologies, Wyerless and Audio Input, operating out of a building at 2340 S. Range Line Road.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Grundy became involved in the following:
• Land O'Lakes: Grundy, through Innovative Objects, was contracted by Land O’Lakes and its subsidiary, Nutra Blend, to create propriety software to inventory, track and coordinate disbursement of products. He also contracted with Land O’Lakes and Nutra Blend to provide equipment and technical support for the use, upkeep and maintenance of the software.
"Grundy falsely told Land O’Lakes and Nutra Blend that third-party software programs were built into that proprietary software and were essential to the successful operation of the software," according the federal attorney's news release. "Grundy claimed that some of the payments made to Innovative Objects were remitted to third-party license holders. In reality, there were no third-party licensee fees; instead, Grundy kept those payments for his personal or unrelated expenses."
Land O’Lakes and Nutra Blend paid more than $1.3 million in fraudulent license fees between 2012 and 2015.
• Miami Nations: Grundy also engaged Miami Nations Enterprise, a subsidiary company of the Miami Nations Tribe, in negotiations to provide loans and to purchase a controlling interest in all of Grundy’s technology-based companies.
"Grundy falsely told Miami Nations Enterprise that his companies had been awarded a $3.5 million contract from Walmart Stores to develop and provide information technology services. Grundy presented numerous emails, invoices, conditional award letters and other documents to support his false claims. Miami Nations Enterprise loaned Grundy the money to cover the costs associated with software and hardware purchases and training necessary to obtain the $3.5 million Walmart contract. Grundy admitted (Thursday) that he instead used those funds for his own personal expenses, including building a new home in Charleston, South Carolina."
On Aug. 24, 2014, Miami Nations Enterprise paid an additional $2 million to purchase a 70% interest in Grundy’s companies.
Officials with Miami Nations Enterprise later discovered that neither Grundy nor any of his companies had been awarded any contract with Walmart and determined that the emails, conditional contract award, invoices and bank deposits Grundy had used to support his claims were fraudulently created.
• False information on loan: Grundy applied for three loans from UMB Bank on Oct. 17, 2014.
"Grundy specifically admitted that he fraudulently obtained a $5,440,800 loan by providing false information in the loan application.
"Grundy falsely claimed that Land O’Lakes had agreed to a 20-year lease for warehouse space that he wanted to build using the loans he sought from the bank. Based on lease agreements provided to UMB Bank officials, Grundy claimed he would receive $18 million in future income.
"Grundy admitted that he grossly exaggerated the amount of money to be paid by Land O’Lakes in order to obtain the loans from UMB. Rather than one lease agreement between Grundy and Land O’Lakes to rent the warehouses, there were two lease agreements. One lease agreement was for three years at an amount far less than claimed by Grundy. The second lease agreement was a 'month-to-month' lease agreement at an even smaller amount. In reality, the true and accurate leases signed and approved by Land O’Lakes only guaranteed Grundy $540,000 in income."