A former comptroller for a Joplin trucking company pleaded guilty Friday in federal court 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 a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield following an FBI and Internal Revenue Service probe of his finances. The federal prosecutor’s office said that a report from a financial institution prompted federal agents to examine unusual deposits VanWinkle made into the accounts of two businesses he owned, VanWinkle Accounting and VanWinkle Farms, while serving as comptroller at Frontier Leasing Incorporated in Joplin.
By pleading guilty, the defendant admitted stealing $4,911,621 from Frontier Leasing between June 2008 and December 2013 by setting up a secret company bank account. VanWinkle would receive checks from customers of the company and began depositing some of them into a bank account that he set up in Frontier Leasing’s name without anyone else’s knowledge.
He would withdraw money from that account, deposit it in either of his own business accounts and use it for personal expenses and gambling, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
VanWinkle never reported the company funds he stole on his personal income tax returns for the years 2008 through 2010 in violation of federal tax law. Since he never filed income tax returns for 2011 and 2012, he failed to report embezzled funds in those years as well, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
As comptroller, VanWinkle also was responsible for collecting payroll taxes for the trucking company 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 employees’ paychecks and never turning it over to the government.
VanWinkle faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison without parole and a $750,000 fine. His sentencing hearing will be set after the United States Probation Office completes a presentence investigation.
David VanWinkle is required by his plea agreement to repay the $4.9 million he stole from Frontier Leasing 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.