“I am very sorry for causing harm,” Lakes told Walter. “I am very ashamed of my behavior.”
Lakes worked with Viacheslav Berkovich, 34, of Los Feliz during the fraud scheme, between January 2007 and September. Berkovich has pleaded guilty, but has yet to be sentenced.
The pair reportedly used fake identities and created a bogus trucking company to gain access to the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System website, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains.
Through the website they were able to arrange the transport of goods to listed companies and brokerages.
Once the pair were contracted with brokers to transport the goods, they then advertised and brokered the payloads to other carriers, collecting the transportation fees.
The men never told the original brokers that they intended to advertise the shipments and never gave them the fees.
Lakes and Berkovich also never paid the companies that actually transported the goods.
The loads ranged from $2,000 to $5,000 each, Walter said.
“The victims in the case were truck drivers who in good faith earned these various loads,” he said.
Lakes agreed to forfeit $1.14 million, which he had in an investment account, Assistant U.S. District Atty. Ronald Cheng said.
The amount of money in Lakes’ account decreased when the stock market began its tumble, attorneys said.
In a letter to Walter, Lakes wrote that he didn’t want to spend the money on luxury items because he felt it didn’t belong to him. In the same letter, he said his actions were done in “wild greed.”
Lakes was convicted in May 2005 of driving under the influence of alcohol. He served 13 days in jail and got 36 months’ probation for the drunk-driving conviction.
Walter said Lakes should have acted as a law-abiding citizen, but instead he has “failed to live up to what was expected of him,” Walter said.
During the sentencing hearing, Lakes told Walter that his next career move would be to help people, not hurt them.
“I’ll look forward to making money honestly,” he said.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.