Feds charge area man with fraud


Staff Writer

Saturday, September 21, 2019

A Nash County man is facing federal charges for allegedly setting up a fake charity and defrauding his employer.

John H. Durham, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Brian C. Turner, special agent in charge of the New Haven Division of the FBI, announced Thursday that Steven Kent Strange, 49, of Bailey, was arrested Wednesday on a federal criminal complaint charging him with defrauding his employer’s charity matching gift program, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice

According to the criminal complaint, Strange is employed by Collins Aerospace, an entity of United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Conn. UTC has a Matching Gift Program, through which the company matches an employee’s charity donation up to $25,000 annually.

In 2008, Strange established the Housing Development Foundation of North Carolina Inc. and listed his residence at 7161 Windy Court East in Bailey as the principal office for the charity. A business, Magnolia Counseling Center, is also listed at this address.

Strange began working for Collins Aerospace in 2014. Between 2016 and June 2019, Strange is accused of defrauding UTC’s Matching Gift Program by submitting fraudulent records of donations, including fabricated cashier’s checks that he and coworkers purportedly made to the Housing Development Foundation, according to the complaint.

Between 2017 and 2019, UTC transferred approximately $367,000 in matching funds to the Housing Development Foundation of North Carolina, the press release said.

A review of the foundation’s bank records revealed that a large portion of the foundation’s expenditures appears to be personal expenditures. The complaint charges Strange with wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum prison term of 20 years, the release stated.

Strange appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge James E. Gates in Raleigh and was released pending his court appearance in the District of Connecticut.

Durham stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The FBI investigation is conducting the investigation. Durham thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina for its assistance with Wednesday’s arrest and court proceeding, the release said.

Strange could not be reached for comment.