- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2011

A prominent Maryland businessman, who has given generously to Republican and Democrats alike over the years, pleaded guilty to felony charges that he embezzled millions of dollars from one of the nation’s largest tire companies.

The recent guilty plea in federal court in Oxford, Miss., by Sanjeet “Sonny” Veen estimates that the fraud scheme cost about $2.4 million, considerably less than the $7 million outlined in the indictment but nonetheless an amount that could warrant a significant prison sentence.

Plea documents state that Veen devised a scheme to defraud Dunlap & Klye Co., its stores and affiliated companies out of the cash. The crime carries maximum penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Because he pleaded guilty, however, it’s unlikely he will receive the maximum penalty.

In disclosing a lower figure for the amount of the fraud, plea documents cite “new information” that was reviewed by prosecutors, Veen’s attorney and Dunlap & Klye that convinced authorities that “some counts in the indictment no longer involve provable fraud.”

The Aug. 19 guilty plea, which was not announced by authorities, came after several trial delays. He has been free on $100,000 bond.

In charging documents, prosecutors said Dunlap & Klye ordered tires from foreign manufacturers through Veen, who ran his own tire company called Orteck Global Supply and Distribution Co. LLC. But according to prosecutors, Veen sent “deceptive invoices” to Dunlap for tires that were never received by Dunlap, its stores or affiliates.

Blaming mistakes on foreign tire makers, Veen would tell Dunlap & Klye that he would handle the problems himself rather than having Dunlap deal directly with the factories, according to prosecutors.

“At Veens direction, fictitious shipping container numbers were used on the deceptive invoices, to create the appearance that particular tire orders were being shipped, or would be shipped, by the factories in the identified shipping containers,” the indictment said.

State and federal campaign records show that Mr. Veen and companies where he was an officer gave more than $10,000 in contributions over the past decade to Democrats and Republicans. In 2006, he was among a group of fundraisers profiled in the newspaper Roll Call.

Among others, Mr. Veen, his family or businesses have given to Republican Michael S. Steele in his 2006 U.S. Senate bid in Maryland, and Prince Georges County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, both Democrats, in their successful races. He also had donated to former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a New York Democrat and current secretary of state.