Man guilty of federal wire fraud fails to show up to sentencing, warrant issued

Jeff SikesKEARNEY — A federal warrant has been issued for a Kearney man who failed to appear for sentencing Friday in U.S. Federal District Court in Omaha.

Jeffery S. Sikes, 36, was scheduled to be sentenced Friday afternoon in Lincoln before Judge John Gerrard. However, federal court records say he didn’t appear for the hearing and a warrant was been issued for his arrest.

Sikes pleaded guilty in June to one count of federal wire fraud for defrauding a real estate developer of more than $800,000.

In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors dismissed 18 other charges. Those charges included similar alleged frauds involving other victims from the Kearney area.

Although Sikes pleaded guilty to one count, the plea agreement says the judge may consider all of Sikes’ alleged schemes in the 18 dismissed counts and may determine restitution based on the dismissed counts at sentencing.

Restitution will be ordered, court records say, although an amount hasn’t been determined.

According to court records, between April 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, Sikes devised a scheme to defraud and obtain money and property under false pretenses. Sikes, under the business name of Vanguard Nebraska LLC, contacted representatives of a partnership about leasing commercial property it owned in Lincoln.

Sikes represented to the partnership that he intended to establish laboratory space in Lincoln for use in research and development. Sikes proposed the partnership provide a $750,000 loan for improvements to the leased property. In exchange, Vanguard would guarantee all amounts it owed under the lease agreement and promissory note.

Sikes knowingly provided the partnership with a fraudulent balance sheet supposedly representing Vanguard’s 2010-2013 cash flow as well as other fraudulent forms, said Steven Russell, a U.S. attorney at the time of Sikes’ plea.

On June 19, 2013, Sikes and the partnership executed the lease agreement. Once the partnership’s total contributions equaled $750,000, Vanguard was to be responsible for all remaining construction expenses.

As part of the scheme, Russell said, Vanguard made ADC, a Delaware corporation controlled by Sikes, the general contractor for the construction project.

Sikes provided false invoices and billing statements to the partnership representing bills payable to subcontractors for work performed or materials provided related to the construction costs for the commercial property, Russell said.

Sikes then provided instructions for the payment of the false invoices from an escrow account with funds provided by the partnership. The instructions would be sent by Sikes or others at his request, either personally or through ADC. The funds were wire transferred to accounts controlled by Sikes.

The disbursed funds from the false invoices were then converted to Sike’s own use, Russell said.

On July 30, 2013, construction invoices for $207,377 were submitted, and Sikes later admitted knowing the invoices were false. Sikes admitted the money was paid via wire transfer to ADA through a Lincoln bank.

Sikes faces up to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, up to three years of supervised release after prison and a $100 special assessment fee. Anyone with information about Sikes’ whereabouts is asked to contact any law enforcement agency.


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