A Portland, Connecticut, man pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court for his part in a scheme that defrauded a Columbus company out of between $250,000 and $1.5 million over the course of a year.

Richard Morin, 48, of Portland, Connecticut, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, for his role in a scheme that defrauded Cranel Inc., a Columbus company that sells and services imaging equipment, out of between $250,000 and $1.5 million in 2011.

Morin is the final defendant to plead guilty in connection with the fraud. On Aug. 16, Frank Damico, 52, of Sunbury, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Jolson to defrauding Damico’s employer by working for both his employer and a competitor at the same time and using a hunting buddy’s name to hide the fact that he was working for the two competing companies simultaneously.

Damico pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and one count of subornation of perjury, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to a statement of facts presented during Damico’s hearing, Damico was national service manager for Cranel Inc. and in November 2011, Damico agreed to go into business with Morin, who owned Pro Image, a Connecticut company and competitor of Cranel’s. Damico transferred Cranel company documents containing trade secrets and confidential customer data to Pro Image.

Early in 2012, Damico asked Morin set up a Pro Image email account under the name of Josh Fetter, whom court documents describe as a hunting buddy of Damico. Fetter agreed after the fact to allow his name to be used, and has admitted to lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury during the investigation of the fraud.

As “Josh Fetter,” Damico emailed and called existing Cranel customers in other states, persuading about 12 of them to either switch their business to Pro Image or seek much lower prices from Cranel.

Fetter, 32, of Ashley, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King on June 29 to one count of criminal contempt and is awaiting sentencing.

Staff Report

Information for this story was provided by U.S. District Court.