Posted: Feb 18, 2013 4:27 PM by Irina Cates - MTN News
Updated: Feb 18, 2013 4:27 PM
MISSOULA - A Stevensville man may face federal criminal charges in addition to civil claims that he bilked customers from across the country out of $70 million in "bogus charges" to their phone bills.
Court documents say that in November 2011, the FBI raided Steve Sann's home, as well as his office, which was on the second floor of the Glacier Building in Lolo, and seized everything from sales receipts to computers. They also raided the office of his accountant, Rob Braach. Agents seized 60 boxes of documents from those locations.
A search warrant allowed investigators to take anything that violated wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering laws. The search was in relation to a suspected scheme called "cramming" where Sann allegedly charged people for phone services they didn't authorize or even know about.
The alleged scheme is also being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.
FTC investigators accuse Sann of being the leader on the multi-million dollar operation and accuse Terry Lane, Nathan Sann and Robert Braach of helping him, and also accuse him of creating a non-profit corporation called Bibliologic to hide profits from the $70 million scheme.
In a January interview, FTC Northwest Regional Office Attorney Richard McKewen said, "A lot of the money that was made from the operation was ultimately transferred to that non-profit. From there the money was transferred back into the companies and also was transferred to lawyers who were representing Mr. Sann in unrelated criminal matters."
In the new court documents the defense says it gave federal prosecutors documents explaining why their suspicion that Sann committed fire fraud is unwarranted, but by law, he cannot disclose those reasons at this time. In spite of these efforts, the defense says the criminal investigation is still ongoing.
Sann is also facing federal drug charges in connection to Jason Washington's former medical marijuana business, Big Sky Health. That business was also raided in November 2011. Washington was recently convicted of drug charges in that case.