Arkansas man pleads guilty to stealing from trucking company

| 1/11/2002

An Arkansas man pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to the theft of more than $100,000 from a trucking company. He reportedly used the money to pay bills and support a bingo habit.

Joe Pratt, of Fort Smith, defrauded USA Truck, of Van Buren, AR, where he was employed as director of pricing, by filing bogus claims for damaged merchandise. Pratt is believed to have filed about 30 false claims since 1999.

Pratt reportedly would submit a check request for damaged freight for a company that did business with USA Trucking. After the claims were approved, Pratt would alter the claim forms to show the name of a fictitious company. He then would take a check request to the accounting department and have it made out to the fictitious company.

Pratt claims he used the money to pay bills and to play bingo. He allegedly spent more than $300 per week playing bingo.

Pratt was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He also was ordered to pay more than $102,000 in restitution after he is released.