Michael Guzman, 43, a former Sunbelt Rentals employee who hatched a scheme to defraud his company out of $4 million in construction equipment, has been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell also ordered Guzman to pay $4.1 million in restitution.
Acting as a fleet operations manager for Sunbelt, from June 2019 until May 2020 Guzman arranged for 398 company assets to be auctioned off through an online heavy construction equipment auction house, identified as Company B in an earlier release by the United States Attorney’s Office Western District of North Carolina.
Guzman then represented to Company B that the assets were owned by two shell companies he set up — Second Life Equipment and All Seasons Sales and Service — when they were actually Sunbelt’s assets. He used the name of “Eric Dixon” throughout the transactions and laundered the money through John Brown Acquisitions, a company Guzman set up.
After the theft Guzman used the money to buy a condominium in South Carolina, a plot of land in New York, an RV, a boat and multiple cars and trucks.
As reported in the Charlotte Observer, court filings show Guzman’s attorneys stating that Guzman’s promotion to fleet operations manager “came with increased stress and responsibility that he wasn’t handling well.” As a result, the attorneys said he began experiencing panic attacks and also drank heavily. A negative employee review and the resulting reduced bonus prompted him to take “out his anger at his employer childishly and made a terrible and regretful decision to seek revenge against Sunbelt,” said his attorneys in court documents, according to the paper.
The newspaper further reports that Guzman’s attorneys’said he was able to “fool himself into believing that he could pay the money back if he were ever discovered.”