INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. District Judge Sara Evans Barker sentenced an Indiana man to six years in federal prison on Nov. 29 after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering involving a scheme to steal millions of dollars from a trucking firm.
Daniel Fruits, 47, of Greenwood, Indiana, who was hired to manage and run a Greenwood, Indiana-based trucking company, defrauded his employer out of more than $14 million over a four-and-a-half-year period, using the funds to create a lavish lifestyle full of prostitutes, luxury jewelry, homes and private jet flights, according to a news release from Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
“Mr. Fruits stole an outrageous sum of money to fuel an extravagant lifestyle, concealing his crimes with years of lies and false documents,” Myers said. “Complex economic crimes such as these devastate the finances and security of businesses and individuals. The serious prison sentence imposed today demonstrates that this U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, IRS-CI, and all our law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to hold these criminals accountable.”
As part of the sentence, Barker ordered that Fruits be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for three years following his release from federal prison and ordered Fruits to pay $14,339,252.04 in restitution to his victims and a $14,270,000 money judgment.
From January 2015 through June 2019, a Kentucky-based entity invested more $14 million into the trucking company — money that Fruits used to fund his high-end escapades, the news release stated.
“Fruits used that money to purchase real estate; several vehicles, including two Ferraris and a Corvette, farm equipment, a horse trailer, a show horse, multiple Rolex watches, firearms, private jet flights, along with high-end escort services,” according to the news release. “Fruits hid his theft by creating false and misleading financial statements. He then sent those statements to his employer to induce additional investments into the trucking company.”
In mid-2019, Fruits’ employer asked him to have an accountant review the trucking company’s financial statements and provide a report.
Rather than comply, Fruits fabricated a letter, purportedly written by a Greenwood-based accountant. When the employer contacted the accountant to follow up, they learned that the accountant’s letter was false and fictitious. Fruits was fired the next day, and the victims contacted law enforcement officers.
The investigation also revealed that Fruits attempted to defraud Fifth Third bank out of $432,000 by providing false documents to secure a mortgage. Finally, the investigation revealed that Fruits perpetrated a title wash scheme that fraudulently removed Ally Finacial’s lien from a $69,607 truck, according to the news release.
Fruits was arrested on Dec. 16, 2020. On Aug. 18, 2021, a federal magistrate judge revoked his conditional pretrial release and ordered him detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service after finding that he had committed several violations, including being charged with new fraud offenses in state court.
“Mr. Fruits put his personal greed ahead of loyalty to a company that had entrusted him with its money and used funds that were not his to finance a lavish lifestyle. Even after his arrest, the defendant still was intent on defrauding others for his personal gain,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton. “The FBI and our partners will continue to investigate those who engage in these types of financial fraud and ensure they are held accountable.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.