Fleet Management

Former Trucking Comptroller Admits to Millions in Theft

March 03, 2014

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A former comptroller for a Missouri trucking company pleaded guilty last week to stealing more than $4.9 million from his employer.

David VanWinkle of Frontier Leasing based in Joplin, Mo., waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., to wire fraud, money laundering, and failure to pay taxes between June 2008 and December 2013, which he spent on personal expenses and gambling.

Frontier Leasing operates around 100 trucks in the dry van and flatbed sectors along with brokerate services, according to its website.

Based on a report from a financial institution, federal agents began investigating unusual deposits VanWinkle made into his business accounts for two businesses, VanWinkle Accounting and VanWinkle Farms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.

VanWinkle, acting as the comptroller for FLI, received payments from FLI’s customers in the form of checks. VanWinkle deposited some of those checks into FLI’s legitimate business accounts, but deposited other checks into another checking account under the name of FLI that VanWinkle had opened at another bank. VanWinkle was the sole person on this secret account. No one else was aware that FLI had the account and VanWinkle was not authorized to open an account or deposit any of FLI’s customer payment checks into the account.

VanWinkle admitted that he withdrew money from the secret bank account to deposit into his business accounts. The embezzled money was then spent on VanWinkle’s personal and gambling expenses.

According to the indictment, VanWinkle failed to report the embezzled funds from FLI on his personal income tax returns he filed with the IRS for the years 2008 through 2010. VanWinkle did not file income tax returns for the years 2011 and 2012 and did not report the embezzled funds during these years, either.

In addition, VanWinkle was responsible for collecting payroll taxes for FLI and paying those payroll taxes to the IRS. VanWinkle withheld those taxes but failed to turn them over to the IRS. VanWinkle admitted that he collected, but failed to pay over, a total of $435,896 in federal tax, Social Security and income taxes withheld from FLI employees’ paychecks.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, VanWinkle must forfeit to the government more than $4.9 million, a 2013 Holland tractor, a 2007 Hummer H3, a 2012 John Deere no-till seed drill, and $28,086 that was seized from various bank accounts.

Under federal statutes, VanWinkle is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $750,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

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