Lansing businessman in payroll fraud probe pleads guilty

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Lansing business owner accused of withholding more than $52,000 from employees’ paychecks for retirement contributions that were never deposited or matched has pleaded guilty, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday. 

Camron Gnass, who owns Traction Advertising Agency, appeared before Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

He pleaded guilty to larceny by conversion ($1,000 or more, but less than $20,000) 

and two counts of larceny by conversion (less than $200), a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine or three times the value obtained.  

Gnass is the first to be criminally charged through an investigation by the state’s Payroll Fraud Enforcement Unit, which launched in 2019, officials said. 

He was arraigned that year on 13 counts, including larceny by false pretenses. Most of those counts were dropped "due in large part to Gnass successfully completing restitution payments in the case," Nessel's office said Thursday.

Michigan Attorney General seal

As part of a plea agreement, Gnass admitted to withholding money from staffers’ paychecks for deferred retirement contributions and failing to deposit the funds into their accounts or paying an employer match, investigators said.

“Employees should never have to second guess where their hard-earned retirement money is going,” Nessel said. “I acknowledge Mr. Gnass’ admission of wrongdoing in this case and commend the hard work by our Payroll Fraud Enforcement Unit to reach this plea agreement.” 

Sentencing is scheduled for 3 p.m. July 13.