Former GM manager pleads guilty in aluminum fraud

AP News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2009 1:32 PM

A former General Motors manager has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, admitting he took $6.5 million in kickbacks in the sale of hundreds of millions of pounds of aluminum worth an estimated $1 billion.

Daniel Bealko, 62, formerly of Clarkston, Mich., appeared before U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras last Thursday to enter his plea, one day after he returned from Liechtenstein following an extradition proceeding.

He was arrested last year in Liechtenstein, where he had been living as fugitive. Before that, he was believed to have been living in St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean.

Prosecutors said Bealko, GM's former global commodity manager for lightweight metals, agreed to forfeit $6.5 million and assist in moving back to the U.S. foreign assets including $3.3 million in a Liechtenstein bank.

Bealko admitted that he took the $6.5 million to steer GM's sale of the aluminum to Fuci Metals USA, owned by Anthony Demetrius Brown, a metals dealer. Brown already has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the case.

According to the complaint filed Jan. 31, 2008, the kickbacks were paid between mid-1998 and December 2003.

Prosecutors said Bealko located buyers who paid Brown for the aluminum and that Brown was then supposed to use the money to repay GM. Authorities said, however, that Brown diverted funds obtained from the sale to his own use. They said Fuci went broke owing the automaker $83 million.

Kocoras set Bealko's sentencing for Jan. 19. Prosecutors calculated his probable sentence under federal guidelines at 70 to 87 months, which could be more than seven years. The maximum is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.