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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Hiding in Plain Sight

The FBI recently captured a man who’d been on the run for eight years. Before he hid in plain sight, he worked as an accountant for a machinery business. He’d only been with the business for two months when he enacted his scheme to defraud his employer.

As many who are in an accountant-type position, who embezzle, he used duplicate invoicing for jobs already paid and paid himself, as well as wrote checks to fictitious people, i.e., himself. In two years with the company, he’d diverted over two million dollars to himself.

After his arrest, awaiting sentencing, a judge placed him on house arrest. Before the sentencing date, he disappeared.

Typically, a person hiding from law enforcement lives an unassuming quiet life. Not this brazen thief. He moved to another state and partnered with a man to create a geo-caching, treasure-finding app. They worked with local businesses to produce the hints where they had buried the hidden treasures.

When he wasn’t peddling the treasure-hunting app, often donning a pirate’s costume and speaking like a pirate, he worked as an electrician.

They promoted a large hidden treasure event, $50,000 in silver coins and the lease on a new truck. Participants had to visit local businesses to receive the clues. About five months after this ‘hard to believe it’s true’ treasure hunt, the FBI arrested the pirate/electrician—once accountant—and returned him to the state he’d fled to face the charges from eight years earlier.

Something the fugitive said during the hype about the buried treasure may have been telling of how he thought of himself in that he was hiding in plain sight,

“The key, matey, is to have a good brain. Lots of scalawags out there, and only the ones with the good brains are going to solve the clues.”

It is unknown if there ever was a $50,000 treasure to be found, as it doesn’t appear as though anyone truly found it. Perhaps there’s $50,000 of the embezzled money hiding somewhere for later use—after release from prison.

After pleading guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion, a judge sentenced the former accountant/pirate/electrician to over seven years in federal prison where there is no early parole. The judge also ordered him to pay over $2.5 million in restitution to his victims. Upon his release from prison, he will serve three years of supervised release. #embezzlement #fraud

A U.S. Attorney associated with the case said,

“The punishment imposed demonstrates that those who try to obstruct and evade justice will ultimately be held accountable.”

Source: US Department of Justice, ABC 4 – Salt Lake City, Local Today – Utah News

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