January 31, 2006

Ex-Wal-Mart Exec Pleads Guilty to Fraud

From AP via Yahoo! News

FORT SMITH, Ark. - A former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. vice chairman who was a protege of founder Sam Walton pleaded guilty to fraud and tax charges Tuesday, admitting that he stole money, gift cards and merchandise from the world's largest retailer.

Tom Coughlin, 57, faces a maximum of 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. He also could be fined $1.35 million.


Wal-Mart lawyers referred Coughlin to federal prosecutors after discovering Coughlin had embezzled money from the company and used expense vouchers to buy products as varied as snakeskin boots, hunting trips and Bloody Mary mix. They estimated losses at up to $500,000.


As the company vice chairman, Coughlin received a base salary of $1.03 million in his final year with the company. A filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission last April said Coughlin also received $3.09 million in bonuses and other income in fiscal 2005. Coughlin held about $20 million in Wal-Mart stock, according to an SEC filing last February.

click here for all of it

I thought this was a pretty funny story until the last two sentences:

No mention was made in court of Coughlin's claim that he used money obtained from Wal-Mart to pay for anti-union activism. Wal-Mart has said there is no such project.

So he's telling the truth about everything that he did, except the stuff about paying for anti-union activism? and Wal-Mart can just sweep it under the rug and say, "Yep, he's lying about that one thing, he's just trying to bring the rest of us down with him. Shame on you, Tommy!" because he's the bad one, the rest of the CEOs are just saintly as can be. Just another "isolated incident", I guess.

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