Face minimum sentence of probation up to a maximum sentence of five years in prison
By Jon Johnson
PHOENIX – The owner of Aston Homes, Austin VanScoyk, and its accountant, Samuel Fiedler, pleaded guilty Dec. 3 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona to conspiracy to commit wire fraud – a Class-D Felony. Magistrate Judge Bruce G. Macdonald accepted the guilty pleas.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed a search warrant on the offices of Aston Homes at 625 W. Main St. in Downtown Safford on Sept. 11, 2020. During the search, boxes of potential evidence were seized.
According to the factual basis of the plea agreements, from about March 18, 2020, through Aug. 7, 2020, VanScoyk and Fiedler – along with VanScoyk’s brother, Jonathan VanScoyk, “conspired, confederated, and agreed to commit wire fraud by submitting fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications for four entities: Bright Edge, Yellow Turtle, Aston Homes, and Grand American.”
The fraud was committed to ensure loans to Bright Edge and Grand American Homes, according to court records. On April 26, 2020, a loan of $638,300 was issued to Bright Edge and on April 30, 2020, a loan of $549,830 was issued to Grand American Homes.
Jonathan VanScoyk owns Grand American and was operating on a limited basis. He was not charged in this case.
According to the plea, Austin, Jonathan, and Fiedler claimed in a PPP application and other supporting documents that the four entities had between 36 and 171 employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly payroll, neither of which was true.
Fiedler then prepared and submitted fraudulent IRS tax forms and fraudulent payroll documents. The plea states Fiedler and Austin knew the documents were fraudulent and that Jonathan became aware that the application and supporting documents were fake and that all three took steps to convince non-employees to pretend to be employees of Bright Edge or Grand American Homes.
According to the pleas, Austin VanScoyk and Samuel Fiedler face a fine of up to $250,000 and a maximum term of up to five years in prison, followed by not more than three years of supervised release (probation). The defendants may also be ordered to pay restitution for the nearly $1.2 million they fraudulently received. However, according to federal sentencing guidelines, the crime calls for a sentence of imprisonment between 24 to 30 months. The defendants may also request to be sentenced to just probation instead.
According to a minute entry, Austin VanScoyk was set to be sentenced on Feb. 11, 2021, at 3 p.m. before Judge John C. Hinderaker, and Fiedler was scheduled to be sentenced in front of the same judge on the same date at 3:15 p.m. Both men remain released on their own recognizance until sentenced.
Aston Homes is a local home builder who has taken over building homes in the Cota Ranch subdivision in Thatcher and the Park Place Estates near Eastern Arizona College from the original home builders.
Aston also builds homes on single plots of land.