Prosecutors Want Prison Time For Ex-County Board Chair Sorensen | WGLT

Prosecutors Want Prison Time For Ex-County Board Chair Sorensen

Sep 8, 2017

Federal prosecutors want former McLean County Board chairman Matt Sorensen to be sentenced to more than two years in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud State Farm.

Sorensen, 51, is set to be sentenced Tuesday, Sept. 12, in federal court in Chicago. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud last fall after being indicted with his co-defendant, Navdeep Arora, in January 2016. He resigned from the county board soon after.

In a court filing this week, prosecutors say they seek a sentence of between 27 and 33 months in prison, along with restitution of $490,975, and three years of supervised release (parole). In a separate filing, Sorensen's attorney asks the court to consider probation.

“Using a fake consulting company and fraudulent invoices, the defendants stole funds from State Farm and McKinsey. As the victim letters show, the defendants’ actions have caused both companies to undertake time and expense uncovering this fraud, destroyed a longstanding relationship between these two companies, and caused reputational harm,” prosecutors said in their filing.

Sorensen allegedly made $370,000 in the fraud scheme carried out with Arora. Sorensen was an internal consultant for State Farm who helped the Bloomington-based insurer decide which outside consults to use. Arora worked for McKinsey & Company, the largest consulting firm in the world.

Prosecutors say Sorensen and Arora engaged in a fraudulent billing scheme that lasted for at least three years. Sorensen even set up a phony company called Gabriel Solutions to siphon off stolen money, prosecutors said. (Sorensen's attorney denies it was a shell company.) Arora also took Sorensen on two vacations, which he ultimately expensed to State Farm and fraudulently claimed were business expenses, prosecutors say.

In its filing this week, prosecutors note that Sorensen is a first-time offender without a history of mental illness or substance abuse. Sorensen was already making $150,000 (legally) at State Farm.

In asking for leniency, Sorensen's attorney, Stuart Chanen, said his client takes full responsibility for his actions and will serve any sentence "without rancor." Chanen's 18-page filing documents Sorensen's extensive community service and government work, including before and during the scheme.

Chanen blames Arora for "lying to (Sorensen) about every aspect of his life in order to gain (Sorensen's) sympathy and trust." Arora even lied about having a son with cystic fibrosis, Chanen said.

"Matt was the perfect target for Arora's schemes and manipulations because Matt Sorensen is the kind of person who would do anything for anybody in need," Chanen wrote.

Sorensen found out he was indicted on Jan. 4, 2016, by reading about it in the media, before his own attorney could notify him after being contacted by prosecutors, Chanen wrote.

Prosecutors also spoke to Sorensen's motive in their sentencing statement. Why did he do it?

“The circumstances demonstrate that there were no overwhelming pressures, disadvantages, or physical or mental conditions defendant faced when he executed the crime. Rather, it appears that he saw his relationship with Arora as a way to benefit himself, and that the sums of money being fraudulently charged were relatively small and would likely go unnoticed,” prosecutors wrote.

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