Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 9:09 a.m.
Federal prosecutors in Southern California have won a guilty plea from a New Jersey-based Panasonic employee who accepted bribes from Orange County businessmen seeking to cheat the Japanese conglomerate out of millions of dollars.
Sean Volin--a supply manager in Secaucus, New Jersey--violated federal honest services laws by "accepting a stream of illicit payments" for at least six years from officials at Trustin Technology, a Tustin-based subcontractor to Panasonic.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, Volin secretly agreed not to obtain price reductions for Panasonic on purchases of hard drives from Trustin Technology if huge sums--some as large as $45,000 or $67,000--were routinely deposited into a bank account he created using a fake corporation, Vosema Consulting, Inc.
In addition to $665,000 in bribes, Volin--who made sure Trustin Technology received tens of millions of dollars in business from Panasonic--also accepted expense-paid trips to Las Vegas, Kentucky Derby and Napa Valley's wine country as well as cash to buy a home.
Federal prosecutor Andrew D. Stolper filed a criminal information complaint against Volin in late January and within days the cheater acknowledged guilt.
No sentencing date has been scheduled inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, but Volin--who was born in 1975--faces a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine twice the size of Panasonic's loss.
Stolper and his DOJ colleague, Brett A. Sagel, have also won a plea agreement with William McMahon, Trustin Technology's CEO who participated in the bribery scheme, according to court records.
McMahon hasn't been formally punished either.
And, talk about a cesspool corporate environment, Jean Joseph Ibrahim, a onetime Rancho Santa Margarita resident and chief financial officer at Trustin Technology, admitted in 2012 that he embezzled more than $15 million.
Ibrahim, who was born in 1978 and enjoyed a $180,000 a year salary, is scheduled to learn his punishment next month by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford.
Trustin Technology has been represented by Wayne Gross, the former head of the DOJ's Santa Ana operations and the man who asked ex-OC Sheriff Mike Carona to lobby for his appointment to the bench at the same time Carona was under investigation for corruption by the FBI and IRS. Unsuccessful in this quest, Gross quit DOJ for private practice. He now works at Greenberg Traurig's Irvine offices and is president of the Orange County Bar Association.
Carona is presently a federal prison inmate.