Former Bernhardt Furniture Exec Sentenced for Fraud

STATESVILLE, NC – Andrew Geiger was sentenced to almost 5-1/2 years in federal prison and ordered to pay back more than $563,000 to his former employer, Bernhardt Furniture Co. Inc., for a scheme involving wire fraud and money laundering.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Voorhees also ordered the 48-year-old Geiger to serve two years of supervised release following his prison term.

Geiger had been employed by Bernhardt Furniture as Director of Manufacturing, Casegoods-Bernhardt Contract Division from June 1996 until January 2008. He pleaded guilty in March 2012 to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in an eight-year scheme which defrauded the company of $563,164.

According to an announcement made by Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, and John A. Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI, which handled the investigation, "the stolen money represented a 41% increase in the legitimate compensation [Geiger] received from Bernhardt in the same time period."

Through his position at Bernhardt, Geiger negotiated a deal with Canadian company Viacraft Interiors Ltd. in December 1999 to manufacture an office furniture line for the company. In the deal it was agreed that Viacraft would be paid 34% of the product’s list price.

Court documents indicate that Geiger then created a fake company, Furniture Works International (FWI), and directed Viacraft to ship the furniture to FWI, where it would be "re-packaged" for shipment.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI said records also show that Geiger "falsely advised the Canadian company that Bernhardt had authorized an increase in its payment from 34% to 39%, with the additional difference being paid to FWI and then later funneled to Geiger. To further his scheme, Geiger caused the Canadian company to receive bogus correspondence from FWI asserting, among other things, Bernhardt approved FWI’s involvement in the transaction and that Bernhardt approved the payment of FWI’s fee to be paid from the proceeds of the Bernhardt’s payment to the Canadian company."

In October 2006, court documents say that although Geiger directed all shipments directly to Bernhardt’s factory in Lenoir, "he still collected the bogus fees through FWI."

The fraud was discovered by Bernhardt after Geiger left the company for another position in the furniture industry. He was indicted on the charges in 2010.

In an interview with the Lenoir News-Topic, Bernhardt Vice President William Howard said the company didn't expect to see any reimbursement of the money.

Headquartered in Lenoir, NC, Bernhardt Furniture Co. is privately owned. Founded in 1889, the company employs approximately 1,000 people and has seven facilities in North Carolina and six Asian offices, according to its website.


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