In a recent development, former Polar Air Cargo executive Robert Schirmer has entered a guilty plea, admitting his involvement in an extensive scheme aimed at defrauding the cargo carrier of millions of dollars. This revelation comes in the wake of charges filed against Schirmer and nine others earlier this year, all accused of conspiring to divert tens of millions of dollars in revenue from the Atlas Air Worldwide/DHL subsidiary. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York made this announcement in an official press release dated October 24.
Schirmer’s guilty plea revolves around one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, offenses that carry a maximum prison sentence of five years. As part of the plea deal, he has also agreed to forfeit a substantial sum amounting to $983,759.32. Moreover, Schirmer has committed to making restitution to Polar Air Cargo in the substantial amount of just over $9.3 million.
The announcement of Schirmer’s guilty plea was made in a statement from the US District Court, stating, “Schirmer pled guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud before US District Judge Jesse M. Furman.” Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, officially confirmed this significant development.
Williams expressed, “Polar senior executive Robert Schirmer admitted his guilt in a scheme to defraud his employer that lasted more than a decade. Today’s plea reflects our office’s longstanding commitment to rooting out corporate fraud.”
Robert Schirmer is now scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Furman on February 13, 2024.
The allegations outlined in the indictment and further substantiated in public filings and court proceedings indicate that Schirmer, along with nine other individuals, engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud Polar over a prolonged period, spanning from at least 2009 to July 2021. Of the individuals involved, Schirmer and three co-defendants held senior executive positions at Polar (referred to as the “Executive Defendants”), while the remaining six co-defendants (the “Vendor Defendants”) were proprietors of various Polar vendors and customers.
The Executive Defendants are accused of accepting substantial kickbacks from the Vendor Defendants. In return, they allegedly secured favorable business arrangements between Polar and these vendors, while also profiting from undisclosed ownership interests in these same companies.
The United States District Court remarked, “The fraud they perpetrated — which involved a substantial portion of Polar’s senior management and at least 10 customers and vendors of Polar — led to pervasive corruption of Polar’s business, touching nearly every aspect of the company’s operations, for over a decade.”
As a result of this scheme, the Executive Defendants, in collaboration with two co-conspirators who were also senior executives at Polar, purportedly received illicit payments, either directly or through various limited liability companies they controlled. These payments amounted to an excess of approximately $23 million in kickbacks and disbursements, arising from their ownership of conflicted companies, according to the court’s claims.