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Colorado man convicted of defrauding Florida air cargo company of $5 million

A Denver man was convicted earlier this month of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars from a company which fired him by continuing to submit fraudulent invoices which were discreetly paid by a co-conspirator - the company's director of finance. 

Michael Tew, 44, and his wife, Kimberly, were found guilty of funneling their money through several bank accounts and into cryptocurrency exchanges. A federal jury returned its verdict on wire fraud charges on Feb. 15.

Michael Tew worked from 2015 to September 2018 as the chief financial officer for National Air Cargo. It was a contracted position that ended with Tew's firing for unauthorized use of a company credit card, according to case documents. 

Prior to his firing, Michael Tew sent the first of the fraudulent invoices to National Air Cargo's Jonathan K. Yioulos, the business's New York-based director of finance. Yioulos told investigators that Michael Tew urged him to pay the invoice. 

"Mr. Yioulos processed that payment, later learning from Tew that the payment was fraudulent as (the billing company) had not provided services to NAC, or at least not in the amount claimed," a prosecutor stated in the criminal complaint against the Tews.

Yioulos claimed the Tews used that incident to further leverage more payments. They threatened to report his mistake to company management, and he acquiesced. But they also allowed Yioulos to skim small amounts of cryptocurrency for himself, and later presented outright perks.

"Mr. Yioulos stated that Tew and/or his wife...offered him season tickets to the Buffalo Bills for his assistance with the execution of this fraud," wrote prosecutors in the complaint, "but he declined as he already had season tickets."

More than $4 million from fraudulent invoices was paid to three companies named Global Fuel Logistics, Aero Maintenance Resources, and Political Media, and to the Tews personal accounts - all by wire transfer. The invoices listed such services as business consulting, "fuel modification inspection & research," and maintenance. None of those services was actually performed, per prosecutors.

Only when investigators approached National Air Cargo executives in July 2020 - almost two years after Michael Tew's dismissal - did the scheme come to an end. National Air Cargo management, previously unaware of the fraud, immediately terminated Yioulos.

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In a press release announcing the Denver couple's convictions, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado stated that "testimony at trial demonstrated the Tews gambled away much of the money and spent $2.4 million buying Bitcoin at Bitcoin ATMs across the Denver area.  Michael Tew also failed to file federal income tax returns for tax years 2016 through 2019, on both his earned income and funds obtained from the fraud scheme."

Additionally, public records indicate Michael Tew was previously the CEO for Cannasys Inc., a Denver-based company specializing in the Nevada cannabis industry. It was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in June 2017, about the time Michael Tew allegedly submitted the first fraudulent invoice to National Air Cargo.

The SEC then un-registered Cannasys in April 2021 and pulled the company's stock from the open market, claiming it had not filed required periodic filings since six months after the company was registered in the summer of 2017. In that last report, Cannasys "reported a net loss of $6,124,706 for the prior twelve months," according to an SEC document

A sentencing date for Michael and Kimberly Tew has not been set. Since the conviction, prosecutors and the defense attorneys have filed opposing motions about the couple's pre-sentencing detention, the prosecutors claiming they are a flight risk (liable to leave the state or country to escape their sentencing).

Yioulos pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy in 2021 (39 counts were dropped). He is scheduled to be sentenced in September. He faces a money judgement of more than $5 million and a possible prison term.

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