COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A 51-year-old man is facing nearly 25 years in prison after manipulating Ohio investors and withholding more than $50,000 from employee retirement funds.
Robert W. Walton, 51, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of wire fraud and one count of theft from an employee benefit plan, according to Kenneth Parker, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. Walton allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in Pike County.
As president of Hadsell Chemical Processing, Walton sought investments through promissory notes and falsely claimed the notes were guaranteed by a prominent local business owner. Parker said Walton repeatedly forged the business owner’s signature from 2012 to 2015 without the owner’s authority on several loan documents and promissory notes.
Walton admitted he falsely represented his company’s future revenues from another business to be in the millions by creating fake invoices. The total legitimate business revenue the company had with that other business was approximately $50,000. Walton also provided investors with a falsified profit and loss statement, changing the net income from January through May in 2014 from around $800,000 to nearly $395,000.
In addition, Park said Walton failed to remit approximately $53,000 withheld from employees’ pay, failing to transfer the funds into employee retirement funds.
Authorities are now seeking more than $8.6 million in restitution for the victims of the fraud scheme, Parker said. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and embezzling from an employee benefit plan carries a potential maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.