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Former Tracker Marine employee pleads guilty to fraud

Paul Ray Hunting, a former Tracker Marine employee, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James England to three charges in a Feb. 28 indictment for his role in a scheme that defrauded his employer of more than $850,000.

Hunting, 39, who had been transportation manager at Tracker, admitted that from January 2006 through August 2008 he conspired with the co-owners of a trucking company to defraud Tracker by inflating purchase orders and shipping invoices. During that time, Hunting admitted, he aided in causing more than 2,550 fraudulent invoices to be submitted to Tracker, according to Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

James Keith Ivey, 51, and his wife, Melinda Kay Ivey, 42, also have been charged in this case.

In addition to the fraud conspiracy, Hunting pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy related to the cash payments he received, which he admitted came from the proceeds of the fraud.

Hunting admitted that about every two weeks he met with one or both of his co-conspirators and received his share of the proceeds generated from the fraudulent invoices in cash. Hunting further admitted that he falsely claimed some of those payments on his federal income tax return as income from a catering business.

In addition to the fraud and money-laundering conspiracies, Hunting also pleaded guilty to one count of willful failure to make an income tax return, for the calendar year 2007.

Under federal statutes, Hunting is subject to a sentence of as much as 26 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of as much as $850,000. In the plea agreement, Hunting agreed to pay $265,775 in restitution to Tracker.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a pre-sentence investigation.

The indictment charged that Hunting conspired with the owners of J&M Trucking Inc., in Lebanon, to defraud Tracker. Tracker contracted with J&M to transport boats and trailers to Tracker’s dealers in North America. Hunting was promoted to transportation manager for Tracker in 2006.

According to the indictment, J&M’s compensation from Tracker was determined primarily by the distance its trucks traveled. In his plea agreement, Hunting admitted that he caused Tracker to make payments to J&M in excess of the contract amount by listing an inflated and false number of billable miles on purchase orders. In exchange, Hunting received a portion of the revenue generated by the fraudulently increased billable miles, in cash. Hunting admitted that from 2006 to 2008 he received a total of $265,775 from his co-conspirators.

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