Owner Of Shuttered Louisville Microwave Popcorn Company Guilty Of Bank Fraud
Louisville, Ky. – The owner of the shuttered Preston Farms Popcorn, LLC (Preston) pleaded guilty to bank fraud today, before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., in U.S. District Court, for diverting buyers’ payments toward the operation of his business rather than towards the payment of his loan, announced U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
Kermit W. Highfield, 43, of Louisville, pleaded guilty to a single count of bank fraud, stemming from a business loan from UPS Business Capital Credit (UPS) that was insured by the United States Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank). This loan was an advance on payments due from Preston’s international buyers. Preston defaulted on the UPS loan, and the Ex-Im Bank reimbursed UPS, resulting in a loss of $110,678.74 to the Ex-Im Bank.
According to the plea agreement, between March 18, 2013 and May 30, 2013, Highfield executed a scheme to defraud UPS. Under the terms of the loan, Preston was required to instruct buyers of the product to transmit payments into a specific BB&T Bank account, and those funds were to be used to pay off the UPS loan. However, Highfield admitted to instructing Preston’s buyers to deposit payments into other bank accounts controlled by Highfield and Preston. The funds were diverted from UPS and used by Highfield to pay for Preston operating expenses.
Highfield faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000 and a five year term of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for February 1, 2016, at 11am in Louisville.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Weiser and is being investigated by United States Export-Import Bank OIG in Washington, D.C.
The Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States, and assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. Complaints and reports of waste, fraud, and abuse related to Ex-Im Bank programs and operations can be reported to the OIG hotline at 888-OIG-EXIM (888-644-3946) or via email at IGhotline@exim.gov.