SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Two men have been sentenced on fraud charges in federal court after defrauding their employer of more than $2 million.
William Ross Hickman, 49, of Arcadia, was sentenced to 52 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $2,693,221 in restitution to Raeford Farms, his former employer.
Brian K. Whiteman, 48, of Haughton, was sentenced to 20 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He must also pay restitution for $2,183,949.
The scheme to defraud Raeford Farms of Louisiana, LLC involved Hickman, the Sales Manager, and Whiteman, the Assistant Sales Manager of the Arcadia production plant.
Raeford Farms sells fresh and frozen chickens and chicken frames. (Chicken frames are the core of the chicken that remains after processing the breasts, thighs, wings, and legs.)
Hickman negotiated the sale of chicken products and sought the highest possible return. Still, he developed a scheme to diver business from Raeford Farms by using an intermediary (Group 7792) to purchase chicken frames from Raeford Farms. He provided favorable sales terms to entities to the detriment of Raeford Farms, prearranging agreements with a corporation to sell chicken frames to Heritage Food Sales. Hickman controlled Heritage Food Sales.
Heritage then paid Group 7792 guaranteed returns for transactions without taking possession of the chicken frames, nor did they add any value to the transaction. Hickman sold the same chicken frames to a poultry wholesaler in Chattanooga, Tenn. And they made a profit.
Hickman had others working with him from inside Raeford Farms, sending invoices by email from Arcadia for Heritage to receive payment for selling the chicken frames to the poultry wholesaler in Tennessee.
Both Hickman and Whiteman concealed the involvement of Heritage from Raeford Farms. It was Whiteman’s job to track inventory and details of all shipments. In exchange for participating in the conspiracy, Whiteman agreed that Heritage would pay him through his own business, All Trade Enterprise, LLC.
Hickman was paid on a monthly commission through All Trade, resulting in more than a $2 million loss to Raeford Farms.
Hickman and Whiteman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States (interstate commerce laws) on Mar. 8.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the case, which Alexander C. Van Hook, Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tennille M. Gilreath, prosecuted.