Salesman of Yearbooks Indicted For Fraud
BALTIMORE – A federal grand jury indicted Joseph Wenzl, 39, April 20 for wire and mail fraud in connection with the purchase of school yearbooks by Maryland and Washington D.C. high schools and colleges, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein announced.
The 15-count indictment alleges that Wenzl was the regional sales representative for Taylor Publishing Co., headquartered in Dallas, in an area that covered Maryland and the District of Columbia. Wenzl’s duties as a sales representative were outlined in a contract that provided in part, “Representatives shall not collect money from customers to whom year books are sold, rather shall direct customer to remit payment directly to the company.”
The indictment alleges that from October 1998 through January 2003, Wenzl devised a scheme to defraud Taylor of money and its right to the honest services of Wenzl’s duties. Wenzl is alleged to have fraudulently induced Taylor to agree to highly discounted contract prices for the production of yearbooks by citing, among other reasons, competitive market pressure from other yearbook publishers. Wenzl allegedly misrepresented the actual cost of the yearbooks to school customers, including George Washington University, the United States Naval Academy, Howard University, Edmund Burke School in Washington, and Fairmount Heights High School located in Prince George’s County, Md., who never saw the lower prices Taylor had set for the yearbooks. Wenzl allegedly created and sent to the schools fraudulent invoices on Taylor letterhead that reflected the higher prices. Wenzl directed the school customers to send their payments to Campus Creations Inc., an entity controlled by Wenzl, in Towson, Md., instead of to Taylor in Texas.
Wenzl caused the schools to mail checks in the higher amounts stated on the fraudulent invoices to Campus Creations. After depositing the checks from the schools into a Campus Creations bank account he controlled, Wenzl mailed checks to Taylor that matched the discounted price on the Taylor invoice.
Prosecutors allege that by keeping the difference between the Taylor invoices and the higher invoices he fraudulently sent to 27 school customers, Wenzl retained more than $700,000 that he failed to remit to Taylor.
Wenzl faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for each mail and wire fraud count. Wenzl’s initial appearance in U.S. District Court has not yet been scheduled.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.