On Thursday, it was announced that the owner of a Houston, Texas business has pleaded guilty to his role in a $840,000 scheme to defraud J.E. Dunn Construction Company. 49-year-old Brian A. Newkirk or Houston pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud. Co-defendant, 46-year-old John L. Kirwin of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, was employed by the victim company as an internal recruiter from August 2013 to April 13, 2016.
He was responsible for finding qualified candidates for job vacancies. Kirwin often worked with outside employment recruitment agencies to find potential employees for construction projects throughout the country. When a recruit was actually hired, J.E. Dunn paid a fee to the outside employment recruitment agency. Kirwin hired three firms to help.
Search Group International was owned by Newkirk. Two other firms were owned by co-defendant, 53-year-old Debi K. Jordan of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kirwin received a salary and was not allowed to receive commission or benefits for the recruitment of new employees. Shortly after his employment began, Kirwin initiated a scheme to receive kickbacks from Jordan and Newkirk.
Kirwin also began submitting fraudulent invoices to J.E. Dunn. The invoices contained inflated amounts or they referenced employees that were never hired. Kirwin ultimately pleaded guilty to a count of wire fraud and a count of mail fraud. Jordan pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.
The government believes that J.E. Dunn sustained a loss of roughly $840,000, due to the scheme. At the time of his sentencing, Newkirk will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole.