The former owner of Plainville’s Ferguson Electric and Ferguson Mechanical Co. Inc. will spend 20 months in federal prison for bilking more than $3.3 million from his 300-plus employees, prosecutors say.
Lee Furguson, 62, of Farmington, was also sentenced Monday in Hartford federal court to one year of supervised release and ordered to pay a $200,000 fine for stealing about $1.60 to $3.15 an hour from each of his employee’s fringe benefits as a “third party administrator fee” for the employees’ pension plans, the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Ferguson, who led the business from 1983 to spring 2019, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering last July. He is free on a $50,000 bond, and must report to federal prison on April 28, authorities said.
According to investigators, from approximately 2013 to 2017, Ferguson deducted money from employees’ hourly pay for their pension plans, but he instead diverted the money to TPA of Connecticut, a Florida company that he formed.
TPA then sent the money to another Florida company Ferguson established, DJS Associates, which prosecutors said he created to perform business-consulting services for himself and his companies. However, Ferguson used the funds entirely for personal expenses, and the business did not provide any services.
Through the scheme, Ferguson stole more than $3.3 million from more than 300 employees, prosecutors said. He has since made full restitution.
Ferguson Electric was founded in the 1920s by Roy T. Ferguson and specialized in industrial and electrical services, according to the company’s website. His son, Thomas R. Ferguson, took over the business in 1948 before Lee Ferguson assumed leadership in 1983.
Lee Ferguson resigned from the company last spring, and his son, Ryan Ferguson, assumed the role of president. Today, the company employs more than 150 full-time workers.
“He has taken full and complete responsibility and at no time did anyone else at his former companies participate in or was aware of his actions or motives,” a company spokesman said Tuesday. “Full restitution had been made to effected employees prior to his sentencing today.”