Former in-house patent lawyer admits $5M billing scheme, will reimburse Hunter Douglas
Sued in federal court in Denver, a former lead in-house patent lawyer for Hunter Douglas Inc. has admitted a billing scheme that diverted more than $5 million of company funds to a patent-search firm he secretly controlled and promised to repay the money.
Jason Throne, 53, said in court papers filed in November that he would repay the $5,068,589 he owes to Hunter Douglas by selling a waterfront property he owns on Rockport Harbor in Maine, and another luxury home on a 140-acre spread in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the Denver Post reports.
He could not be reached Monday, and a lawyer for Hunter Douglas did not respond to a request for comment, the newspaper says.
Hunter Douglas accused Throne of creating a Colorado company “for the sole purpose of falsely billing HDI for patent search services that were on information and belief never performed. Between the years 2000 and 2014,” Jason Throne and another individual “used PSG to submit false and fraudulent invoices to HDI on a monthly basis,” filed court documents.say
Hunter Douglas alleged that Jason Throne had his own company submit bills directly to him. Throne then approved them and routed them to Hunter Douglas for payment, circumventing a computerized auditing system, the suit says. When checks from Hunter Douglas arrived at a Boulder post office box for his company, Throne or his wife allegedly went to Colorado to pick them up and deposit them in a bank in that state.
As part of his work for Hunter Douglas, Throne had the authority to retain outside counsel to perform work and supervised a company attorney or paralegal. In court filings, Hunter Douglas says its employees are prohibited from performing outside work or becoming involved in a situation that creates a conflict of interest. Throne allegedly agreed to the conflict policy and certified that he was not employed elsewhere.
The suit says the scheme came to light when a patent engineer at Hunter Douglas questioned why so much money was being spent on a company she’d never heard of, the Post reports.
Throne had been with Hunter Douglas for more than 20 years.