BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – A Raleigh County pharmacist was sentenced today to 135 months in federal prison for her role in a fraud scheme which cost victims over $2 million in losses. She was also ordered to pay over $2.5 million in restitution to the victims and serve a term of three years of supervised release.
According to court documents and admissions at the plea and sentencing hearings, Natalie P. Cochran, 40, of Daniels, owner of Technology Management Solutions (TMS) and Tactical Solutions Group (TSG) in Beckley, knowingly defrauded and took money and property from individuals, a financial institution and several other companies from approximately June 2017 through at least August 22, 2019.
She persuaded them to invest in TMS and TSG and in phony government contracts by making false misrepresentations regarding her and her companies’ experience and purported success as government contractors.
Cochran convinced at least 11 people to invest approximately $2.5 million in alleged government contracts. The investors paid through personal checks, cashier’s checks and wire transfers. She also convinced an investor to send $511,920 through a wire transfer from North Carolina.
Cochran never invested the money she received from victims, instead she put it into her personal and business bank accounts for personal purposes unrelated to the investments. Cochran admitted to using investor funds to make numerous purchases over $10,000, including withdrawing more than $37,500 to purchase a 1965 Shelby Cobra.
She also admitted to knowing that at least one of her investors suffered a financial hardship as a result of her scheme. As part of this scheme, Cochran used some investors’ funds to pay other investors a partial return on their investment.
Cochran pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges on September 21, 2020. Pursuant to her plea agreement, she also agreed to forfeit her interest to the United States in the assets she obtained through her fraudulent activities, including two pieces of real property, a 1965 Shelby Cobra, multiple vehicles, jewelry and nearly $45,000 seized from her business’ bank account.
“I want to commend the victims for the remarkable courage they displayed throughout the investigation and prosecution of this case,” said Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston. “I also want to thank the West Virginia State Police , the United States Secret Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) and Assistant United States Attorneys Kathleen Robeson and Greg McVey who worked tremendously hard to ensure that the defendant was held accountable for the significant harm she inflicted on the victims.”
“The West Virginia State Police is proud that today we were able to secure justice for the numerous victims impacted by the selfish criminal conduct of Natalie Cochran,” said West Virginia State Police Lieutenant Timothy Bledsoe. “While this sentence does not undo the harm that Cochran brought upon each victim, we feel that our investigative efforts worked to ensure that she was held accountable for her criminal actions related to the operation of her Ponzi scheme.”
“The results of this investigation demonstrate the Secret Service’s commitment to protecting our nation’s financial institutions and citizens of West Virginia,” said U.S. Secret Service Resident Agent in Charge Robert W. Pyle. “We will continue to work with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to bring offenders to justice. We would like to thank the West Virginia State Police and the FDIC-OIG for their cooperation and partnership in this case.”
“Today’s sentencing recognizes the importance of holding the defendant responsible for lying to a financial institution and investors, and fraudulently inducing them to finance her companies and fake government contracts,” said FDIC Inspector General Jay N. Lerner. “ The defendant then, in turn, purchased luxury items for her personal use with the illicit proceeds. The FDIC Office of Inspector General remains committed to working with the U.S. Attorney and our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who commit such flagrant offenses, and to help preserve the integrity of the banking sector.”