- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A former executive of a sports gear company was sentenced to nearly 3 ½ years in prison Thursday for his role in a scheme that federal prosecutors said defrauded high schools in New Jersey and elsewhere by inflating invoices and forging fake bids from competitors.

Fifty-seven-year-old Mitchell Kurlander of Allentown, Pennsylvania, received a 41-month sentence from U.S. District Judge William Walls. Kurlander’s father-in-law, 83-year-old Alan Abeshaus of Highland Beach, Florida, was sentenced to three years’ probation that includes nine months of home confinement.

Both men had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

According to an indictment unsealed in 2011, Kurlander was the chief financial officer and Abeshaus was the chief executive officer of Circle System Group, which sold and reconditioned athletic equipment, uniforms, and apparel, mostly to schools, colleges and youth sports programs in New Jersey.

The indictment alleged the company created fake price quotes from competitors that Circle would then undercut in order to win contracts. It also alleged Circle inflated invoices, sometimes to reimburse the company for money it had donated to the schools’ fundraising and charity efforts or that it had spent on gifts and donations to school officials.



The company’s former president, David Drill, pleaded guilty in 2008 and awaits sentencing. Two school officials in New Jersey, former Long Branch High athletic director Charles Ferrara Jr. and former Elizabeth High official Robert Firestone pleaded guilty and were sentenced in 2014 to one year’s probation.

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