PLAINVILLE — The former owner of Ferguson Electric and Ferguson Mechanical has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for stealing more than $3.3 million from his employees.
Lee Ferguson, 62, of Farmington, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering on July 31, 2019 and was sentenced this week, according to a statement from Tom Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was also ordered to serve one year of supervised release after his prison term and to pay a $200,000 fine.
Ferguson is required to report to prison on April 28.
Chuck Coursey, a spokesman for Ferguson’s companies, said Ferguson resigned and relinquished all his interests in the companies last spring.
“He has taken full and complete responsibility and at no time did anyone else at his former companies participate in or was aware of his actions or motives. Full restitution had been made to affected employees prior to his sentencing,” he said.
Authorities say Ferguson was responsible for deductions of between $1.60 and $3.15 per hour from employee benefit packages between 2013 and 2017. A total of $3,357,516 was stolen from more than 300 employees.
The deductions were described as “third party administrator fees” despite being paid to TPA of Connecticut, which Ferguson established and operated. The money was then channeled to DJS Associates, another company formed by Ferguson, which he claimed performed business-consulting services for him and his companies.
“However, no such services were performed and Ferguson used the funds for personal expenses,” the Department of Justice statement says.
In a memo to the court before his sentencing, Ferguson’s attorneys argued that his history of philanthropy in Plainville, cooperation with investigators and reputation warranted leniency.
“The good deeds and positive contributions that have comprised Lee’s adult life over the past four decades, and through which his well-deserved reputation was earned, are crucial to determining the appropriate sentence,” they wrote.
The prosecution, in a memo, wrote that the sentence should reflect the seriousness of the crime, particularly due to the scale and amount of time it occurred.
“When business owners steal money from their employees through a fraud scheme, like the defendant, over a prolonged period of time, they should be punished with more than a slap on the wrist,” the memo said. “In addition, here the defendant misappropriated monies for his own personal use out of greed thereby making his conduct even more egregious. He did so despite the fact that the defendant already lived a very privileged lifestyle.”