Amarillo Men Plead Guilty to Defrauding Cattle Feed Supplement Company
(STL.News) Two Amarillo men who defrauded a manufacturer of cattle feed supplements out of more than $474,000 pleaded guilty today to wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Philip Ian Thomas, 41, and Hadley Lane Jones, 30, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
In plea papers, the pair admitted they defrauded Westway Feed Products, LLC, a North American liquid feed supplement company.
The company hired Mr. Thomas to manage its Dimmitt, Texas plant in October 2014, giving him discretion to approve repair and maintenance projects costing up to $3,000.
Two years later, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Jones concocted a scheme in which Mr. Thomas would create and approve fraudulent invoices for work Mr. Jones purportedly – but did not actually – perform.
In November 2016, Mr. Thomas instructed Westway’s accounting department to add Mr. Jones as an approved contractor. He then created two invoices for welding he said Mr. Jones had performed, one for $1,490 and another for $1,200.
Despite knowing that Mr. Jones had performed only one project listed on the first invoice, a welding job itemized at $495, Mr. Thomas stamped and signed the contracts. Westway’s accounting department then paid the invoices. When the $2,690 transfer reached Mr. Jones’ bank account, he immediately withdrew $2,000 and gave it to Mr. Thomas.
The pair continued the scheme into March 2020, repeatedly submitting fraudulent invoices to the Westway’s accounting department, which the company paid to Mr. Jones, who split the cash with Mr. Thomas.
To further the fraudulent scheme, Mr. Jones even created a sham business, “Elite Welding Service,” to make the invoices appear more legitimate.
In total, Mr. Thomas fabricated hundreds of fictitious invoices detailing jobs Mr. Jones purportedly performed, inducing his employer to pay Mr. Jones more than $474,429. With the exception of one $5,000 invoice, Mr. Thomas set all of the invoices at or below the $3,000 approval limit, thus avoiding scrutiny by upper level management.
Both Mr. Thomas and Mr. Jones now face up to 20 years in federal prison. Their sentencing date has not yet been set.
The U.S. Secret Service’s Lubbock Resident Office, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Howey prosecuted the case.