Basic organizational divider tabs are among the cheapest items a person could buy. But three men have admitted to using these inconsequential office supplies to swindle a law firm out of over $1 million.On Thursday Carlos Ivan Vargas, 44, of San Mateo, became the last of a three-man crew to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in federal court in San Jose, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.Vargas’ co-conspirators, 43-year-old John Tashiro of Sunnyvale and Hercules resident Daniel Dominguez, 38, both pled guilty to the same charges earlier this year for their roles in a four-year scam that could land each of the men in prison for up to 25 years, the statement said.The men allegedly used fraudulent supply orders for divider tabs to get money from Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, a Palo Alto law firm where Tashiro was a purchasing specialist during the period when the crimes were committed from 2002 to 2006, the statement said.During that time, Vargas was the president of a San Francisco-based printing business called Attorney’s Printing Supply, according to the Department of Justice statement. Dominguez was an accounting manager for the same printing company, the statement said.For years, Tashiro would submit orders on behalf of the law firm for divider tabs to Vargas and Dominguez, who would in turn bill the firm as if the order was to be delivered, the statement said.The two printers would then pay Tashiro to approve the fake orders from both the printing company’s business accounts and personal bank accounts, the statement said.The law firm never received a single divider tab from Attorney’s Printing Supply, but they paid more than $1 million to the company during the four years of the conspiracy for the products, which were never even ordered, according to the statement.The Palo Alto Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division investigated the men, and they were indicted by a federal Grand Jury on Sept. 3, 2009, the statement said. Each man was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the statement said. They have all pled guilty only to the single counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.Dominguez was the first to enter a guilty plea on April 29 of this year, and Tashiro followed suit on May 6, the statement said. Vargas’ Thursday guilty plea completes the trifecta, and the men now await sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 14 for Tashiro and Dominguez and Jan. 20, 2011 for Vargas.Judge Jeremy Fogel will decide the men’s fates in San Jose federal court, the statement said.The mail and wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or double the gross gain or gross loss from the offense, and $1,055,919.03 in restitution, the statement said.The charge for conspiracy to commit money laundering could get each man up to 20 years imprisonment, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, and restitution of $1,055,919.03, according to the statement.Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dave Callaway and Jeff Schenk are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Tracey Andersen and Kamille Singh, the statement said.
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