United States Attorney’s Office Seeks to Civilly Forfeit Assets in Nearly $6 Million Alleged Fraud Scheme

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Acting United States Attorney Steven Russell announced the filing of a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of assets acquired in an alleged fraud scheme involving almost $6 million.

According to the civil complaint, Brett Cook, deceased, of Fremont, Nebraska, utilized his position as Vice President at Darland Properties to orchestrate an alleged fraud scheme involving Jeff Stenstrom, Brian Cook, and others.  The civil complaint alleges Brett Cook directed repair work for Darland Properties’ clients to Stenstrom’s company, Stenstrom Services, Inc., and then billed the clients for work that was not performed, overbilled clients for work that was performed, and submitted inflated invoices to insurance companies to obtain insurance proceeds.  This scheme resulted in a loss of approximately $4,250,000, which personally benefitted Brett Cook and Stenstrom.

By 2019, Brett Cook and Stenstrom ceased directly using Stenstrom Services for Darland Properties repairs. Brett Cook then created a new company with his brother, Brian Cook, called Midwest Property Maintenance Solutions. Midwest Property Maintenance Solutions operated in the same manner as Stenstrom Services had, whereby it billed Darland Properties’ clients for work that was not performed, work that had previously been paid for and completed by Stenstrom Services, and overbilled for work that was performed, among other things. The civil complaint alleges that this continued scheme resulted in a loss of at least an additional $600,000, most of which benefitted Brett and Brian Cook.

The civil complaint further alleges that Brett Cook used his Vice President position to fraudulently obtain monies from Darland Properties’ clients by reimbursing himself for personal expenses, requiring subcontractors to pay kickbacks indirectly to him and others in order to obtain work, and by receiving an approximate $850,000 fee for negotiations with insurance companies on behalf of the clients.  This conduct resulted in an additional loss of at least $1,100,000 to the clients.

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In total, the civil complaint alleges that the schemes identified above resulted in a loss of at least $5,950,000. The fraudulently obtained proceeds were ultimately used to acquire residential and commercial real estate, luxury vehicles, loan payments, credit card purchases, and high-end jewelry and watches.                                                            

The Internal Revenue Service is leading the investigation with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A criminal investigation in ongoing.

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