Former Bernhardt executive Andrew Geiger sentenced for fraud

Apr. 10, 2013 @ 08:15 AM

Andrew Geiger, former casegoods manufacturing director for Bernhardt Furniture, was sentenced Monday to almost five and a half years in federal prison for an eight-year scheme to defraud Bernhardt of more than $563,000.

Geiger pleaded guilty U.S. District Court in March 2012 to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in the case, which brought him 41 percent more money than his legitimate pay from Bernhardt for the same period. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Vorhees ordered Geiger to pay restitution of $563,164.

When asked about the restitution, Bernhardt vice president William Howard said, "I truly don't expect (Bernhardt) to be reimbursed."

"Obviously, we're relieved that this chapter is over," Howard said. "I'm appreciative of the FBI through this whole process. We had a number of employees who cooperated with authorities over the past three years. We feel the sentence is certainly justified."

As casegoods manufacturing director from June 1996 to January 2008, Geiger had the authority to negotiate and enter into contracts with manufacturers on behalf of Bernhardt. In December 1999, Geiger negotiated an agreement with a Canadian company, Viacraft Interiors Limited, to make an office furniture line for Bernhardt and agreed to pay Viacraft 34 percent of the product’s list price.

But starting in March 2000 Geiger created a company, Furniture Works International, and directed the shipment of the office furniture to FWI's "offices" in Statesville, court records say. Geiger told Viacraft that the product was to be sent to FWI so it could be re-packaged and that Bernhardt had authorized an increase in its payment from 34 percent to 39 percent to cover the payment to FWI. Since FWI had no employees, he used Bernhardt employees to repackage the shipments in Statesville and send them on to Lenoir.

Beginning in October 2006, Geiger directed all shipments to go directly to Bernhardt’s Lenoir factory, but he still collected the bogus fees through FWI, court records say.

Bernhardt discovered the scheme when Geiger left the company for another position in the furniture industry.

Bernhardt is headquartered in Lenoir and was founded in 1889. According to its website, Bernhardt employs approximately 1,000 associates at its seven facilities in North Carolina and its six Asian offices.

Geiger, formerly of Hickory, was ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons once a site is designated. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.