BIRMINGHAM—A federal judge today sentenced a Mountain Brook man to four years in prison for embezzling nearly $1.2 million from a Birmingham-based natural gas supplier where he worked as the comptroller, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.
U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor sentenced Wellington Monroe Phillips, II on one count of bank fraud. Phillips, 65, pleaded guilty to the charge in December. He entered a binding plea agreement with the government that provided for a four-year prison sentence and required that he pay restitution and forfeiture or nearly $1.2 million. Judge Proctor upheld the plea agreement today.
“Wellington Phillips stole more than $1 million over seven years from the company that trusted him to manage its finances,” Vance said. “He did immense harm to this company, and in so doing, threatened the livelihood of the people who worked for the company. Corporate fraud must be punished. Phillips will serve four years in prison and has agreed to repay the company $1.2 million.”
According to court records, Phillips embezzled $1,158,427 from Interconn Resources Inc. (INI) between 2004 and June 2011 while he worked as comptroller and primary financial officer for the company. Among Phillips’ duties were issuance of payroll, payment of outstanding accounts, and receipt of payments to the company.
Phillips carried out the embezzlement scheme as follows, according to court records: twice a month, he would issue himself an unauthorized check from the INI corporate bank account held at a First Commercial Bank. Phillips would forge the name of the company’s owner on each check and submit them for payment. Phillips would then alter the company’s accounting ledger by replacing his name with the name of a company to falsely reflect that that company had received the check as payment. Finally, upon receiving bank statements for the corporate account, Phillips would alter the statements to remove his name and replace it with the name of the company he had falsely entered on INI’s internal ledger.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney prosecuted the case.