Federal authorities name four in $32 million check-kiting scheme

Thursday, January 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ Four people face charges in what the FBI described as a $32 million check-kiting scheme to defraud Michigan National Bank.

Ronald Bray, 47, Janice Picklo, 31, and Brian Lambka, 41, were arrested Wednesday on bank fraud charges and released on bond. Dennis Lambka, 47, was out of town but was expected to turn himself in.

If convicted, each faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Authorities say the four are former employees of Simplified Employment Services, an Auburn Hills company that performs payroll, benefit management and other bookkeeping functions for small businesses. At its peak, the company worked on behalf of more than 2,000 firms with about 15,000 workers in 44 states.

The company filed for bankruptcy last July but continues operating under a management team named by a bankruptcy judge.

A federal affidavit contends that from 1998 through June 2001 the four removed cash from checking accounts that lacked the funds to cover the withdrawals and used the scheme to keep the company open and to maintain their lavish lifestyles.

Federal agents raided company headquarters in April 2001 and removed hundreds of boxes of documents. At one point, SES failed to cover three consecutive payrolls and thousands of workers' paychecks bounced,

A former employee told investigators that Dennis Lambka and Bray ``threatened your job if you questioned what was being done,'' according to a Detroit News report.