Tomball Business Executive Sentenced in $15 Million False Invoicing Scheme
HOUSTON – The owner of Tinkle Management Inc. (TMI) has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of wire fraud and money laundering, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. John Blake Tinkle, 60, of Tomball, pleaded guilty Sept. 29, 2016.
Today, U.S. District Judge Alfred Bennett, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Tinkle a 48-month sentence. At the hearing, Tinkle admitted that from 2008 through 2015, he falsely invoiced Houston-based Westlake Chemical Corporation for more than $15.6 million in shipping supplies that TMI never delivered. The court entered a money judgment for the $15.6 million and ordered restitution in the same amount. In handing down the sentence, Judge Bennett commented on the extent of the fraud scheme and noted that since Tinkle was from “good stock”—an upstanding and respected local family—he clearly “knew better.” Tinkle also will be required to serve three years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
TMI was Westlake’s supplier of plastic shipping bags that Westlake used to ship its chemical products internationally. TMI delivered the shipping bags to Packwell Inc., a packaging and logistics company in La Porte. Packwell then used the bags to package Westlake’s chemical products and ship those products through the Houston ship channel. In addition to invoicing Westlake for bags that had actually been delivered, Tinkle submitted false invoices to Westlake for deliveries of bags to Packwell that, in reality, had not occurred.
Tinkle supported his false invoices to Westlake by attaching Packwell receiving reports Tinkle doctored to purportedly show the undelivered bags had actually been received by Packwell. To obtain financing, Tinkle then caused the fraudulent invoices to be presented to Charter Capital, a Houston factoring company, that relied on the invoices in providing funding to TMI. Westlake and Charter Capital paid TMI millions of dollars based on deliveries that never occurred.
Additional evidence was presented today regarding the pervasiveness of the almost seven-year fraud scheme. In some years, more than 80 percent of the invoices Tinkle submitted to his customer Westlake Chemical were fraudulent. Tinkle spent the money from the scheme supporting his family’s lifestyle, purchasing a new home, travel, an airplane and other items.
Previously released on bond, he was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Johnson is prosecuting the case.