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Springfieldian pleads guilty to $500K fraud

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A Springfield man pleaded guilty March 9 in federal court to charges related to a scheme in which he defrauded a woman for more than $500,000, according to a news release from Beth Phillips, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Kenneth Godat, 40, admitted that from October 5, 2007, through March 12, 2008, the victim, Sherry Honeycutt, provided him with a total of $562,427, according to the plea agreement.

Godat met Honeycutt in September 2007 when performing work on her Springfield home. He claimed that his tree-trimming and debris-clearing business enabled him to work as a subcontractor on Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief contracts. He told her he would subcontract through John Smitz and his business Tennessee Tree Co., though neither actually existed. Honeycutt was told that if she contributed funds to finance equipment, salaries and other business-related expenses, she would split the profits from the contracts with Godat, according to the release.

To continue to obtain funds and to give the appearance of verifying expenses, Godat provided false and fraudulent documents to Honeycutt, including phony letters, bills-of-sale and contracts. On Oct. 23, 2007, Godat gave Honeycutt $25,000 of her own money, which he said were profits from the fictitious FEMA contracts, the release said.

Godat hid the financial transactions from the Internal Revenue Service by structuring them in payments below $10,000.

Godat also admitted in his plea that he failed to file tax returns for 2007 and 2008 that reported income received from Honeycutt. The tax evasion cost the government approximately $149,000.

The terms of the plea agreement stipulate Godat must pay $537,427 in restitution to Honeycutt and file complete income tax returns and pay any taxes, interest and penalties owed.

Under federal statutes, Godat is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, a fine of up to $500,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled following a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich and was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation.[[In-content Ad]]

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