Crime & Courts

Marengo businessman pleads guilty to federal fraud charges

A 72-year-old Marengo man is serving time in a federal prison for falsifying bankruptcy documents on behalf of his Union-based concrete wall paneling business.

Peter Konopka was sentenced to six months federal prison after pleading guilty to falsifying bankruptcy and tax documents, according to a news release. In addition to the prison sentence, he also must pay $189,837 of restitution, according to the release.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois sent the release Monday to remind taxpayers that they are responsible for the details reported on their return.

In 2012, while Konopka was president of Solarcrete Energy Efficient Building Systems, he tried to conceal corporate assets on a bankruptcy petition that he filed on the business’ behalf, according to the release.

Konopka also failed to report personal income for 2011, which included payments from business accounts that he used to pay off personal loans, federal court records show.

His attorney, William S. Stanton, could not be reached for comment Monday. Konopka was sentenced in December.

Solarcrete Energy Efficient Building Systems provided insulated concrete panel walls for energy efficient buildings, according to the now-dissolved corporation’s website.

In 2012, Konopka filed Chapter 7 voluntary bankruptcy for the business and concealed assets including construction equipment, vehicles and accounts receivable. In his petition for bankruptcy, Konopka claimed the business did not own personal property, equipment or machinery, court records show.

In fact, Solarcrete owned assets including a 1992 International Semi-truck and a lift machine, which had previously been reported on the business’ tax documents, court records show.

Konopka testified in 2012 that the tax returns were mistaken, and blamed a “new tax preparer” who was unfamiliar with Solarcrete’s real estate and equipment, court records show.

The business owner also pleaded guilty to failure to report at least $77,470 of income from loans that were diverted from his business for his personal use. 

Home State Bank listed Konopka as the borrower on five different loans for which real estate served as the collateral. He’s accused of then writing checks or approving wire transfers from business accounts to make payments on the personal loans, court records show.

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