4 East Tennesseans, 1 Texan charged in ‘Made in the USA’ fraud scheme

GREENEVILLE (WATE) – Five people, four of whom are from East Tennessee, have been indicted in a plan to defraud the U.S. Government and others in a “Made in the USA” marketing scheme.

Vincent Lee Ferguson, 65, of Knoxville; Matthew Lee Ferguson, 40, of Lenoir City; Kerry Joseph Ferguson, 35, of Houston, Texas; Matthew Harrison Martland, 32, of Knoxville; and Stephanie Lynn Kaemmerer, 44, of Knoxville; have been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, major fraud against the United States, and smuggling goods into the United States.

Federal court records say they were all executives and management at Wellco Enterprises and allegedly took part in a conspiracy from December 2008 to August 2012 in which they fraudulently imported military-style boots made in China and then deceptively marketed them to the United States Armed Forces, government contractors and the general public as “Made in the USA” and as compliant with trade laws.

If convicted, they all face a term of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud and smuggling charge, and 10 years in prison for the charge of major fraud against the United States. They also face fines of up to $250,000 and up to three years supervised release on each count. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of around $8.1 million.