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updated: 9/25/2012 5:45 PM

Naperville couple sentenced for contract fraud

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Daily Herald report

A Naperville couple was sentenced to two years in prison for their part in a scheme to fraudulently obtain government contracts aimed at minority business owners.

Aurora Venegas, 63, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to 26 months in prison. Her husband, Thomas Masen, 67, pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and was sentenced to two years in prison.

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Federal prosecutors said Venegas fraudulently obtained government contracts for her company, Azteca Supply Co., by acting as a "sham minority contractor on runway and restroom projects at O'Hare International Airport" between 2001 and 2008. The contracts totaled nearly $9.7 million, according to court records.

Venegas and Masen made it appear Azteca maintained an inventory of supplies as directed in the contract, when in actuality the material was owned by a company in Franklin Park that Masen worked for. Azteca merely acted as a "pass-through" that made it look like customers were purchasing goods from that company, as outlined in the requirements of the "minority business enterprise" contract, prosecutors said.

As part of their sentencing, the couple was also ordered to pay nearly $1 million in restitution.

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