American Presort Charged in Postage Scheme

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Ten officers and employees of American Presort Inc., the largest mail sorter in the New York metropolitan area and one of the largest in the country, were arrested April 15 in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud the U.S. Postal Service of more than $25 million.

The company sorts and bar codes mail from catalog and direct marketing companies so these companies can get postage discounts on bulk mailings. The suspects in the 44-count indictment include Steven Fruchter, Philip Fruchter and Lawrence Braun, who were officers of American Presort at the time of the alleged

conspiracy from June 1994 through June 1997.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan charged that the suspects defrauded the postal service by misrepresenting the amount of mail contained in the bulk mailings and using malfunctioning postage meters to get postage without paying for it. The suit said the company's workers also bribed U.S. postal workers to get the USPS workers to undercount the amount of mail American Presort was sending on behalf of its customers.

American Presort is owned by Lason Inc., a provider of integrated information management services for image and data capture, data management and output processing based in Troy, MI. According to a statement from Lason's, the actions took place before its purchase of the API Systems' assets in March 1998. In addition, the company said its operations and financial condition are unaffected and not related to the federal indictment.

"Lason's business remains very sound," said Gary L. Monroe, chairman/CEO. "We believe that we have the management, systems and controls in place within our New York operations, as well as our other mail-related operations, to detect any potential problems related to postal payments."

The company, referred to in court papers as American Presort, gets 2 million pieces of mail from its clients each day, court papers said.

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