DENVER – Jason Timothy Throne, age 55, formerly of Colorado, pled guilty yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello to mail fraud and filing a false income tax return, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, IRS Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced. Judge Arguello is scheduled to sentence Throne on July 13, 2016. Throne agreed to be charged by an Information on February 18, 2016, waiving his Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury.
According to the information and plea agreement, Throne, a lawyer, joined Hunter Douglas, Inc as an intellectual property counsel in 1993. He was promoted to intellectual property general counsel in 2001 and remained in that position until his employment was terminated in June 2014. Until 2015, Throne was licensed to practice law in New Hampshire and registered to practice in patent cases before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Hunter Douglas is in the business of designing, manufacturing, and fabricating window coverings and related products which is located Broomfield, Colorado. Throne’s duties included managing and overseeing patents and trademarks for Hunter Douglas.
On December 29, 1999, Throne arranged for Patent Services Group, Inc. (PSG) to be incorporated in Colorado and he opened post office box 2019 in Boulder, Colorado, stating on a Postal Service application that the box would be used by PSG. In early 2000, Throne opened an account in the name of PSG at Vectra Bank in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Beginning in early 2000 and continuing to April 2014, Throne prepared 162 false PSG invoices, each addressed to “Jason T. Throne Hunter Douglas Inc.,” Throne stated on each invoice that PSG had performed patent searches for Hunter Douglas and that Hunter Douglas owed money to PSG for those services. After writing “OK to pay” and his initials on each of the invoices, Throne submitted them on a monthly basis to the accounting department at the Hunter Douglas offices in Colorado. Relying on Throne’s approvals, the accounting department paid the invoices by mailing checks to PSG between April 18, 2000, and April 25, 2014. The total amount of the checks was $4,841,146.
After retrieving the checks from the post office, Throne deposited them into the PSG account at Vectra Bank. He then caused the money to be moved from that account to personal bank accounts and used it for mortgage payments, home renovations, landscaping, and other personal expenses.
On June 3, 2014, two Hunter Douglas supervisors and a lawyer for the company, having determined there was a connection between Throne and PSG, confronted him about it. Throne responded by misrepresenting that his wife, as the owner of PSG, performed patent searches under his guidance. He falsely stated that about seventy percent of PSG’s work was done for Hunter Douglas affiliates and the remainder for other companies.
For the years 2009 through 2013, Throne prepared Forms 1040 U.S. Individual In- come Tax Returns for himself and his wife and a 2014 Form 1040 for himself only. Throne should have reported all of the proceeds of the above described scheme on the returns as “Other income,” but he instead reported only some of the proceeds and mischaracterized them as other forms of income and also falsely claimed business expenses. The tax loss resulting from the false 2009 through 2014 returns is $345,348.
Throne agrees that the amounts of restitution that the court should order as a result of his convictions are $4,841,146 for mail fraud and $345,348 for false income tax returns.
Throne was charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of filing a false income tax return. Mail fraud carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. Filing a false income tax return carries a penalty of not more than 3 years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 per count.
This case was investigated by agents with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and IRS Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by the Economic Crime Section of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division.