BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A sales administrator for HeathCo LLC, appeared before United States Magistrate Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl today, charged by federal indictment with mail fraud, identity theft and tax fraud after receiving $308,954.42 in kickbacks from $2,696,400 in fraudulent advertisement sales, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
Annette Thomas, 42, of Warren County, Kentucky, was charged in a 15 count indictment with ten counts of mail fraud, three counts of identity theft, and two counts of filing false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, while employed at HealthCo., located in Bowling Green.
Between October of 1999, and February of 2012, Thomas served as a Sales Analyst Supervisor with administrative responsibilities for budget and expense matters within the retail sales department. HealthCo markets HeathZenith lighting products that are sold at large retail stores.
According to the indictment, Thomas used forged signatures of her supervisor to authorize payments to Professional Sport Publications (PSP), and an associated entertainment company, Adventure Entertainment Promotions (AEP), for unwanted and unnecessary advertisements in sports publications around the United States. Thomas typically authorized payment to PSP in the amount of $15,000 per advertisement and in return for advertisements, PSP allocated approximately 20% of the value of the advertisement in merchandising credits. Merchandising credits consisted of gift cards, sports tickets, concert tickets, airline tickets, and hotel and resort reservations.
In executing the scheme, Thomas used the United States Mail and other common carriers to mail payments for the unauthorized advertisements and received merchandising credits for HealthCo, that were diverted by Thomas for her own personal benefit. Further, as part of the scheme, Thomas is charged with forging the signature of a supervisor for payment of advertisements for the World Series, the Sugar Bowl, and the Liberty Bowl.
Also, Thomas is charged with failing to report approximately $30,578 in other income on a U.S. Individual Tax Return, for calendar year 2010 and failing to report approximately $39,665 of other income on a U.S. Individual Tax Return for calendar year 2011.
If convicted of the charges, Thomas could be sentenced to no more than 20 years for each count of mail fraud, two years for each count of aggravated identity theft, and three years for each count of filing a false tax return. Thomas could be fined $250,000 for each charge.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Judd and is being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation division.
The charge of a person by Grand Jury Indictment is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.