SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A Lafayette businessman has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing nearly $300,000 from finance companies.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana announced Thursday the plea by 55-year-old Leonard Espree, who owned and operated Ameritek Office Solutions in Lafayette.

Prosecutors say Espree admitted submitting false documentation to three finance companies to obtain payment for office equipment. The finance companies approved eight fake applications, paying Espree more than $294,000.

Espree admitted that he never sold or delivered the equipment to any of the businesses.

Chief U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. accepted Espree's guilty plea to one count of wire fraud, and set sentencing for July 10. He faces up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and $1 million in fines.

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