A Stoughton man pleaded guilty to fraud charges on Wednesday in a scheme in which he fleeced hundreds of businesses for more than $150,000, court filings show.
Darren Stokes, 43, entered his plea in federal court in Boston and is scheduled to be sentenced in February, according to court records. He is currently in custody.
According to an indictment, Stokes collected the funds from businesses under false pretense from 2008 to 2012. He would fax them invoices that purported to be from trade groups seeking payment for annual dues or inclusion in a directory.
“In fact, Stokes had no connection to any such business or trade associations and was not authorized to seek or collect such payments for them,” the indictment stated.
Stokes targeted businesses who were members of several organizations including the American Dental Association, National Association of Manufacturers, Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association, American Truckers Association, Associated General Contractors of America, and the American Hospital Association, according to the indictment.
Many of the invoices that Stokes sent required payment from the smaller business for annual membership dues in the trade groups ranging from $575 to $895, court records show.
“By his fraudulent scheme, Stokes induced hundreds of businesses to send checks, payable to business and trade associations, to post office boxes and addresses where Stokes received mail,” the indictment stated.
Stokes’s lawyer, James B. Krasnoo of the Andover firm Krasnoo Klehm LLP, declined to comment on the case, except to note that Stokes entered a conditional guilty plea, which means he can appeal the presiding judge’s denial of his earlier motion to suppress evidence in the case.
Krasnoo plans to file an appeal after Stokes is sentenced.
Defendants often surrender any right of appeal when they plead guilty, but prosecutors in Stokes’s case consented to the conditional plea, according to legal filings.
In a court filing on Monday, Krasnoo criticized US District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns’s earlier denial of Stokes’s motion to toss evidence.
“The decision of the Court fails to address why mail secured at addresses other than the Post Office Box can be used against the defendant as it was seized without a warrant and without probable cause,” Krasnoo wrote in a court filing.