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Tire company's employee gets prison time for fraud

A 48-year-old man from Zachary, Louisiana, admitted that he used his powers as the chief accounting officer at a local tire company to steal a substantial amount of money. After admitting guilt in court to one fraud charge, he will spend over four years behind bars.

The man was accused of embezzling $400,000 from Commercial Tire of Louisiana Inc. While he admitted to stealing that sum, the United States district judge presiding over the case said a pre-sentence investigation revealed that the company was short by as much as $1.2 million due to the man's criminal behavior. The embezzlement took place over the span of eight years.

The man would cut fraudulent checks to himself, but make it appear in the company's financial records that the money went to other employees. He also issued tax records that were doctored to make it look like those employees received the money. The FBI eventually investigated the matter.

The company's president was in court to tell the judge that the man's behavior saddled the company with financial hardship. He pointed to the fact that he was forced to lay off employees because he lacked the funds to pay them.

The accused man's legal team argued that his offenses were out of character, and that, otherwise, he is an honest member of society. The man admitted that he succumbed to the pressures of trying to achieve a higher standard of living. When asked by the judge what he did with the money, he said that he blew it, but did not specify on what.

In addition to the 51 months the man will spend in prison, he must repay $1,283,151 to the tire company.

As any defendant would do, the man and his legal team likely gauged their likelihood of winning in a jury trial and weighed the terms of the plea agreement. Even guilty offenders can take measures in court to ease their sentence.

Source: The Advocate, "Ex-executive gets 4-year sentence in fraud case," Bill Lodge, Jan. 11, 2013

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