Top officials at the Celadon Group are facing criminal charges in an alleged $60 million fraud scheme indictment, according to several new sources.
As reported by RTV6, a Fox affiliate in Indianapolis where Celadon is headquartered, former Chief Operating Officer, William Meek, 39, and former Chief Financial Officer, Bobby Lee Peavler, 40, were charged in a federal indictment filed by the Southern District of Indiana, which was unsealed on Dec. 5. Both men were executives at Celadon Group Inc., a publicly traded transportation and trucking company and allegedly conspired to hide losses from investors.
Both men left Celadon in 2017, RTV6 reported.
They each face the following charges:
- One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and securities fraud
- Five counts of wire fraud
- Two counts of securities fraud
- One count of conspiracy to make false statements to a public company’s accountants and to falsify books, records, and accounts of a public company
- One count of making false statements to a public company’s accountants
Peavler was charged with two additional counts of making false statements to a public company’s accountants, according to news reports.
Both men were released on bail later on Thursday.
Reporting by RTV6 said the indictment alleges that in 2016, Meek, Peavler and others at Celadon knew the value of their trucks had declined due to a slowdown in the market. Many of the trucks had mechanical issues that made them unattractive to drivers, according to the indictment.
To work around those issues, the indictment alleges, Meek, Peavler and other Celadon employees “devised a scheme” that hid millions of dollars in losses to shareholders, banks and the public by trading older trucks for newer models and intentionally inflating the prices on the invoices to hide corporate losses.
In essence, the indictment alleges, the men tried to portray the transactions as purchases and sales to avoid heightened scrutiny. In response to questions from investors and regulatory agencies, the men allegedly made false and misleading statements denying the older trucks were traded in. Peavler is also accused of directing a senior executive and co-conspirator to delete certain emails related to an auditor’s request for information.
“Through their scheme of lies, fraud and misrepresentations as alleged in the Indictment, Meek and Peavler damaged the integrity of the market, the corporation, its shareholders and public investors,” said U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler of the Southern District of Indiana. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting those individuals in corporate America, who choose to commit corporate fraud, in violation of federal law, and have blatant disregard for those with a financial interest in the corporation.”
A trial date for the men has not been set yet.