Whitehall man pleads guilty in long-term fraud meant to keep freight business afloat

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A Whitehall entrepreneur could face five to six years in prison following his guilty plea today to three fraud counts for diverting money meant to pay his clients' shipping bills.

Ronald A. Moog, 78, owned Moog Trans Financial Services, of Castle Shannon, which audited and then paid freight bills for companies that did a large amount of shipping.

From 1997 through the business's demise in 2010, according to prosecutors, Mr. Moog diverted $2,893,280 from an account from which he was supposed to pay his clients' shipping bills. He diverted, for instance, $1,528,202 meant to pay Mine Safety Appliance's shipping bills and $1,008,108 slated to cover Jennmar/Keystone Bolt's freight invoices.

Mr. Moog managed the fraud for so long by allowing some freight bills to become delinquent -- a practice that caught up to him when his clients received a total of nearly $2.9 million in past-due bills in 2010.

Mr. Moog's attorney, Paul Kay, said after the guilty plea hearing that his client wan't buying "Arabian horses or Cubist paintings," but was merely trying to make payroll and keep his business afloat.

"This is a very successful, decent guy," said Mr. Kay. "His business fell on hard times, and he made decisions that he owned up to in court today."

Assistant U.S. attorney James Kitchen said sentencing guidelines suggest a term of imprisonment ranging from five years and three months to six years and six months. Mr. Kay said he will argue for a lesser punishment.

Sentencing is set for April 4.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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