United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that former Dodge County Deputy Sheriff Craig Harbaugh entered a plea of guilty today before Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon to wire fraud. The scheme to defraud deprived six individual victims and one federally insured bank of a combined loss of $10,979,214. It is alleged that the individuals suffered more than $6 million in losses and the bank suffered the remainder.
Former Deputy Harbaugh agreed to a factual basis in support of his plea. He admitted falsifying purchase orders and contracts for his privately owned business, “Tactical Solutions Gear,” a federal firearms licensee with a former location in Fremont, Nebraska. Harbaugh agreed that he used the false purchase orders and contracts to induce individuals in the community to invest in his firearms business with the expectation that they would receive a return when Harbaugh filled the purchase orders. Harbaugh also used the falsified documents to obtain lending from a federally insured bank. In fact, Harbaugh did not have any standing or open purchase orders or contracts with any of the companies or government entities that he falsely claimed to be doing business when he induced the victims to invest with him.
Harbaugh falsely claimed that he had existing contracts and purchase orders to sell firearms and tactical gear to agencies and entities including the Illinois State Police, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Nebraska State Patrol, the Kansas City Police Department, Werner Enterprises, other law enforcement agencies, and one defense contractor. Harbaugh essentially ran a Ponzi scheme. In an email obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he stated he was “irresponsible, immoral, criminal, and selfish” for deceiving the bank. Harbaugh was a Dodge County Deputy Sheriff the entire time that he was running this scheme.
After today’s conviction, FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said, “Craig Harbaugh exploited his position as a sheriff’s deputy to take advantage of victims who invested their life savings with him. Today’s plea demonstrates that no one is above the law. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to ensure those who commit fraud are brought to justice, even if they wear a badge.”
Wire fraud carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release that could follow any term of imprisonment. Harbaugh’s sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2021, before Senior Judge Bataillon.
(Photo by WOWT 6 News)