Pepsi thief – James T. Hammes – Can’t be found – Suppose he’s on a beach somewhere enjoying his $8.7 million take?

January 15, 2010

Accountant James T. Hammes, of Lexington, Ky., was indicted in May on charges that he embezzled more than $8.7 million from a Pepsi bottling company in Deerfield Township. The alleged crimes spanned a decade. At last check, authorities said they couldn’t find Hammes and considered him a fugitive.

The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for a man accused of diverting millions to his own account over a five-year period while he worked for a suburban Cincinnati Pepsi bottler.  The FBI says 46-year-old James Hammes was the Lexington, Ky., controller for Deerfield Township-based G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers from 2004 until early this year.

The wire fraud and money laundering complaint alleges Hammes deposited G&J funds to a bank account that he controlled, and later transferred the money to other accounts he controlled.  The money was intended for a company that supplied labels to the bottler, but the FBI says the supplier had no knowledge of the account or control over it.

Hammes fled after he was served with an initial criminal complaint in February, said Keith Bennett, FBI special agent in charge, in the release. He remains at large.  “Anyone with information on the current whereabouts of Mr. Hammes is asked to contact their nearest FBI office,” Bennett said.

The follow was part of an article on Cincinnati.com about white collar crime:

Small employers often make themselves vulnerable to embezzlement because “they trust people too much,” Campbell said. They may put one person in charge of payroll, with little or no scrutiny. Then one day the employee may succumb to the temptation to steal just a little, and then a little more – and “it just snowballs,” Campbell said.

“They always say they meant to pay it back,” Ferguson said. “And the employers always say, ‘But I trusted this person. I don’t understand.'”

Sometimes people with otherwise stellar reputations turn to embezzling because they run into financial trouble and are trying to bail themselves out. Other times, they want the money to buy luxury items or to feed gambling addictions, Ferguson said.

Whatever their motivation, embezzlers have one thing in common: “They’re all smart enough to see some glitch in the system and take advantage of it,” Ferguson said.

Several Butler embezzlers were able to continue their crimes unnoticed for years, Ferguson noted. “A lot of them get caught when they go on vacation or they get sick, and someone else takes over their duties, sees something’s not right and raises a red flag,” he said. “Then they come back from vacation and find themselves confronted or fired.”

The typical embezzler has no prior criminal history, Campbell said. Embezzlers often admit to their crimes – partly because the documented evidence is often hard to dispute and because they want to clear the guilt from their consciences, he said. And, Campbell said, they do it “because it was easy.”

What reasons do you think that white collar criminals do what they do?  YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Avoiding Income Tax – Kentucky Couple Plead Guilty!

March 15, 2008

Whether it is coincidence or not, it sure seems that we are seeing many guilty pleas or verdicts when it comes to tax evasion and white collar crime here in 2008.  On of the most recent that goes back to a plan in 1994, involved Richard Thronton Burks, III and his wife, Norma Ball Burks.

According to a news release by the US Attorney,  Richard and Norma Burks admitted that they conspired with each other to create corporate and trust entities and to transfer money between the entities so they could conceal Richard Burks’s income from the IRS.  Richard Burks also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of tax evasion.

irs-photo.jpg

The specifics of the Burks actions are as follows as reported in the US Attorney’s news release:

In 1994, Richard Burks directed his employer, Paladin, Inc., a Lexington engineering consulting company, to classify him as a contract employee and to make payments for his services to a company that he and Norma Burks had created. After Paladin would pay his salary to the Burks’ company, Richard Burks further concealed his income from the IRS by transferring money from their company to a trust they controlled. Richard Burks then transferred money from the trust to himself.

In 2000, Richard and Norma Burks purchased Paladin, and they concealed the purchase from the IRS by placing Paladin in the name of another company that they had created. From 1999 through 2001, using their companies and the trust, Richard and Norma Burks concealed Richard Burks’s income of over $480,000 from the IRS. As a result, Richard Burks failed to pay over $84,000 in federal income taxes.

When IRS agents later interviewed Richard Burks, he falsely stated that he only occasionally worked in Paladin’s office, that he did not know when the trust was formed, and that his wife paid his personal expenses with her own funds. During his guilty plea, Richard Burks admitted that he made these false statements to the IRS to conceal his income from Paladin and also to evade the payment of prior unpaid tax assessments of nearly $150,000. Richard Burks agreed that he owes over $233,000 to the IRS in addition to penalties and interest.

Every choice has a consequence.   As a white collar crime and business ethics speaker, I speak from first hand experience about the truth about consequences.  Reality is – no one escapes the consequences of their choices.  While the Burks avoided the “tax man” for a time – they did not avoid the consequences.   Not only will they have to pay the back taxes along with penalties and interest, but both face a maximum sentence of 5 years in federal prison.  They will be sentenced on June 20, 2008.