CHICAGO — An apologetic Matt Sorensen was sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison Tuesday for a wire fraud scheme related to consulting work he did for State Farm.
The former McLean County Board chairman acknowledged his serious mistake that humiliated his family, friends and the community he served as an elected official for more than 20 years.
"I should have known better. I did know better but I agreed to take it," Sorensen said of the scheme to submit false invoices for consulting work to McKinsey and Co., a Chicago consulting firm that did work for State Farm.
Several of Sorensen's relatives and supporters wiped away tears as he read his statement to the judge. The group of about 20 filled most of the seats in the courtroom.
Sorensen, 51, declined to comment after the hearing. His lawyer, Stuart Chanen, said "we're pleased with the sentence. The judge took the whole person into account and the service Matt provided to the community over many, many years."
Sorensen admitted he took part with McKinsey staffer Navdeep Arora in the plan that cost the company about $490,000.
Sorensen pleaded guilty in November to submitting false invoices to McKinsey & Co. for consulting work he did not perform for the Bloomington-based insurer, his employer for more than 20 years before he was terminated in 2012 after the fraud scheme was uncovered.
Arora also has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and will be sentenced Oct. 18.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Guzman ordered Sorensen to report to federal custody on Nov. 27.
Both men are equally liable for $490,475 in restitution to McKinsey.
State Farm was repaid its fees by McKinsey, but the insurer was unsuccessful in its bid to recover almost $2 million related to the investigation into the fraud.
In his comments, the judge recognized Sorensen's long history of public service.
That record is "a remarkably impressive pattern of community involvement," said Guzman.
But the sophistication and duration of the fraud demanded time in prison, he added.
"These are pure choice crimes," committed by "thinking people" who were not without the means for living a good life, said Guzman.
In a sentencing memorandum filed last week, federal prosecutors asked the judge to consider between 27 and 33 months in prison for Sorensen.
The defense, which asked for probation, denied that Sorensen provided confidential State Farm information to Arora about the consulting contracts overseen by Sorensen.
Rather, Sorensen befriended Arora, who lied about his life circumstances to garner Sorensen's trust, Sorensen told the judge.
But Sorensen is not the good man portrayed in letters of support provided to the judge, said Assistant United State's Attorney Sunil Harjanii.
"He's someone who was out for himself," said the prosecutor.
Sorensen must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. He will be on parole for a year on the felony conviction after he is released.