Former Hillandale Farms Accountant Pleads Guilty in $6.8 Million Embezzlement Scheme
PITTSBURGH - A resident of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and tax fraud, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.
Jonathan A Weston, age 58, pleaded guilty on Aug. 23, 2022, to three counts before United States District Judge W. Scott Hardy.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that from October 2005 to January 2019, Weston, a former accountant for Hillandale Farms Co. located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, engaged in a scheme with his personal secretary and company bookkeeper known as VP, to embezzle approximately $6.8 million dollars from Hillandale Farms, and then launder the stolen money businesses they both controlled, to purchase collectible cars and real estate and pay for personal expenditures.
According to information provided to the court, both Weston and VP laundered millions of stolen funds for themselves. Weston purchased, personally or through a Cougar Holdings, a company he owned, a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV, 2003 Lexus SC convertible, a 2010 Lexus LX5 SUV, a 2008 Aston Martin Vantage convertible, a 2013 Lexus GX6 SUV, a condominium in Gateway Towers in downtown Pittsburgh, in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars used for the operation of several car washes and Katie’s Kandy stores, which he owned. VP used the stolen funds to purchase a custom 1933 Ford Model 40 coupe, a 2013 Morgan 3-wheeler, a 2010 Bennington pontoon boat and a 2014 Yamaha wave runner with trailers, and thousands of dollars in credit card expenses. In 2019, VP died.
Finally, the court was informed that between 2013 and 2018, Weston also either failed to file, or filed false federal personal income tax returns. As alleged in Count 5, Weston filed a false income tax return in which he underreported approximately $566,000 in stolen income. All told, during these years, Weston owed nearly $1.2 million in taxes to the IRS which included stolen Hillandale monies.
Judge Hardy scheduled sentencing for Jan. 3, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 58 years in prison, a fine of $2,550,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the Judge continued the defendant on bond.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Jonathan Weston.