The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 28, 2014

Joplin trucking company comptroller pleads guilty to $4.9 million theft

— A former comptroller for a Joplin trucking company pleaded guilty in federal court today to stealing more than $4.9 million from his employer.

David VanWinkle, 60, of Neosho, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Springfield to wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay taxes.

VanWinkle entered the plea as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield following an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. A report from a financial institution had prompted federal agents to examine unusual deposits that VanWinkle made into the business accounts of VanWinkle Accounting and VanWinkle Farms while serving as comptroller at Frontier Leasing Incorporated.

By pleading guilty, the defendant admitted stealing $4,911,621 from FLI between June 2008 and December 2013 by setting up a secret company bank account. He then used money he diverted into the account for personal expenses and gambling, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

As comptroller, VanWinkle was responsible for collecting payroll taxes and paying them to the IRS. The U.S. attorney’s office said that he admitted withholding $435,896 in federal taxes, Social Security and FICA from company employees’ paychecks that he never turned over to the IRS.

VanWinkle could receive a sentence of up to 30 years in prison without parole and a $750,000 fine. A sentencing hearing will be set once a presentence investigation is completed. The defendant is required by his plea agreement to repay the $4.9 million and must forfeit a tractor, a 2007 Hummer and a John Deere seed drill he owns, as well as $28,000 seized from his bank accounts.

 

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