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LA man who stole $1.96 million from App State sentenced to 3 years in prison

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LA man who stole $1.96 million from App State sentenced to 3 years in prison

Christina Beals, WASU News Correspondent

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A Los Angeles man indicted for laundering $1.96 million from App State was sentenced to three years in prison on Feb. 21, Western District of North Carolina U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray said in a press release.

Ho Shin Lee, 31, was ordered on Feb. 19 to pay App State back the $1.96 million he stole.

A Charlotte federal grand jury indicted Lee on March 23, 2018, on 14 counts of money laundering, with each count carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors dismissed 13 counts of Lee’s indictment as part of a plea deal.

According to the indictment, Lee registered a company with the Secretary of State of California called Royce Hub Trading around Nov. 18, 2016, and claimed it was in the “general merchandise” business.

Lee represented Royce Hub Trading as the CEO, secretary and chief financial officer.

He opened a bank account for the company on Nov. 23, 2016, and was the sole account holder.

At the same time, App State contracted the Charlotte construction company Rodgers Builders to construct the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences building, according to court documents.

Around Dec. 2, 2016, an App State employee received an email with a direct deposit form and instructions to change Rodgers Builders’ banking information to Lee’s new bank account.

A source identified as “D.M.” sent the email from accounts@rodgersbuildersinc.com. Rodgers Builders’ email ends in rodgersbuilders.com.

The App State employee changed the construction company’s payment information and deposited $1,959,925.02 intended for Rodgers Builders into Lee’s company bank account around Dec. 8, 2016.

Lee received the money around Dec. 12, 2016, and transferred it out of his bank account through a series of transactions meant to conceal the funds.

App State discovered the mistake when a Rodgers Builders employee contacted the university and asked why the company had not received payment for construction on Leon Levine Hall.

In December 2016, the FBI located Lee’s bank account and seized the remaining $961,000. In January 2017, agents found $600,000 transferred to multiple bank accounts.

App State was awarded $1,542,442.33 in civil forfeiture proceedings after the FBI located the rest of the money, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release on Jan. 24, 2018.

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LA man who stole $1.96 million from App State sentenced to 3 years in prison