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February 7, 2012

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee

Former Shoffner Employee Sentenced For Defrauding Corporation Of Over $1 Million

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Rickey L. Bright, 55, formerly of Powell, Tenn., was sentenced on February 7, 2012, in U. S. District Court at Knoxville, to serve 37 months in prison for wire fraud and money laundering offenses. Additionally, the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, District Judge, ordered Bright to pay restitution in the amount of $1,196,404.95 to the victim in this case and serve a term of three years supervised release upon his release from prison.

According to court documents, from April 2005 until April 2008, Bright, a former employee of Shoffner Mechanical, Industrial & Service Company, Inc. (Shoffner) based in Knoxville, Tenn., devised a scheme to defraud Shoffner of a total of $1,196,404.95, by submitting false invoices for payment.

As detailed in the plea agreement filed with the court, Bright was a project manager for Shoffner, which specializes in the installation of HVAC, plumbing, and electrical components in new and existing commercial buildings. He was responsible for approving all purchases associated with his projects. He enlisted the owner of a construction products supply company to engage in his scheme to defraud Shoffner. Bright submitted false purchase orders to the supply company owner for supplies that were not required to complete projects that he managed. The supply company owner would submit false invoices, which Bright approved and submitted for payment. Shoffner would mail the checks to the supply company who would deposit them into the business bank account. To further the scheme, Bright opened a bank account at Y-12 Federal Credit Union in the name of the Knoxville Track Club. As instructed by Bright, the supply company owner would then write a check for Bright's share of the embezzled funds payable to the “Knoxville Track Club.” Bright determined the amount of the stolen money that the owner would keep as well as the amount that was to be paid to him.

U.S. Attorney William C. “Bill” Killian stated, “Our office is dedicated to the aggressive pursuit of these types of fraud and embezzlement schemes. This case sends a clear message that such crimes will be not be tolerated in the Eastern District of Tennessee.”

This investigation was conducted by Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations. Assistant U. S. Attorney Charles E. Atchley, Jr., represented the United States.

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