A Texas man faces more than 16 years in federal prison for his role in a scheme to bilk nearly $400,000 from his former Eagan employer, Advantage Transportation.
Clayton “Craig” Hogeland, 43, also obstructed justice by faking a life-threatening medical condition, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz found. That caused delays for both his trial and sentencing hearing.
Hogeland, now of Aurora, Texas, was convicted in December 2011 of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and income tax evasion. He was sentenced Friday in federal court in Minneapolis.
His friend Jeffrey Cole Bennett, 52, of Arlington, Tenn., was found guilty of the same charges and was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison. He and Hogeland, who was his boss, must make restitution totaling $393,183. Hogeland’s wife, Jennifer Rose Hogeland, 39, was convicted of three counts of income tax evasion and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Advantage Transportation connects freight companies with trucking firms nationwide. It’s part of the Dart Transit Co.
The prosecution argued that Hogeland, a former general manager at Advantage, created four companies — three of them shams — and had them bill Advantage for products, most of which were never provided. Hogeland approved payment and Bennett paid the Hogelands kickbacks, which Jennifer Hogeland deposited in their bank accounts.
Defense attorneys told jurors a different tale, alleging retribution by a spurned boss and arguing that any tax issues were simple errors.
In a presentencing filing that asked the court to increase his sentence to 21 years in prison, prosecutors alleged that Hogeland created a “fictitious, life-threatening medical condition” in an effort to avoid being tried and again to dodge sentencing.
“It is the stuff of pulp fiction, acted out in reality,” they wrote.
Bags of potassium chloride
And how did Hogeland allegedly fake serious illness?
On the eve of an April 12, 2011, trial date in Minnesota, Hogeland checked himself into a Texas hospital for dangerously high blood potassium levels. The trial was delayed until the following June for medical reasons, then September before finally starting in November 2011.
Further health-related delays stretched out the trial before his conviction on Dec. 6, 2011. He was placed in custody Jan. 8, 2013, and the erratic blood potassium readings stopped. Six days later, his wife reported to federal authorities that she found in his belongings four zip-top bags of what turned out to be potassium chloride.
Despite his continuing complaints about symptoms after being jailed, tests revealed no abnormal blood potassium levels, the prosecution said.
“There is no denying that Hogeland’s failure to have any episodes after he was incarcerated is damning proof that Hogeland self-induced previous episodes,” the prosecution said.
The defense called that allegation a “fantastical theory” and suggested that Hogeland’s wife was setting him up because of tension over her having had an affair.