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Guilty plea set in LeNature's case

| Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 5:03 p.m.

A consultant for LeNature's Inc. will plead guilty on Tuesday in federal court in Pittsburgh to fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a Ponzi scheme that led to the collapse of the Latrobe company.

Drew Murin, 55, of McMurray, Washington County, is a longtime friend of former CEO Gregory Podlucky, who will plead guilty on Monday to charges that he masterminded the scheme that bilked banks and lending institutions out of more than $800 million, according to a grand jury indictment.

Their guilty pleas leave only one defendant -- Robert Lynn, 67, of Ligonier Township -- remaining to face trial July 5.

Three co-defendants -- Tammy Andreycak, 43, of Unity, former director of accounting; Jonathan Podlucky, 37, of Hempfield, former chief operating officer; and Donald Pollinger, 68, a business associate from North Carolina -- have pleaded guilty in the case and are awaiting sentencing.

Murin's decision occurs on the same day that assistant U.S. Attorney James Garrett responded to a motion by Murin and Lynn to bar the testimony of forensic accountant D. Ray Strong of Salt Lake City and several lay witnesses prepared to testify that both men should have been aware of the scheme because of their positions within LeNature's, according to a court document.

The defendants wanted to block details of Strong's report, which said Gregory Podlucky's manipulation of the company's finances "bore the hallmarks of a classic Ponzi scheme."

He said LeNature's never generated enough revenue to pay its bills, so the company borrowed more money to pay off the initial lenders and the new financing.

Strong said the company spent 2.5 times more than it generated in revenue. It cost LeNature's $2.78 to generate $1.07 in revenue, according to his report, and Podlucky inflated the company's sales by more than 1,400 percent.

Strong, a certified public accountant and fraud examiner, spent 3,500 hours examining $1.2 billion worth of the company's financial transactions. He was hired by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh to conduct a forensic investigation of the records.

Murin originally is from Bradenville, Derry Township, where he worked as a bricklayer and excavator in the construction business until he joined LeNature's. His brother, Joseph, is former president of Ginnie Mae, the government-run, home-mortgage broker.

As a consultant, Murin is accused of helping to devise the scheme that helped Podlucky divert $37 million for his personal use into accounts that Podlucky controlled.

Strong said Podlucky spent more than $12 million to build a lavish estate in Ligonier and another $11.4 million on gems and expensive jewelry; $1.4 million on toy trains; and $639,000 to try building a nondenominational church in Ligonier Township.

Podlucky diverted another $11.7 million to buy more jewelry and to pay personal expenses, Strong said.

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