Equipment salesman sentenced for embezzling from Prime Inc.

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Federal prosecutors say a man used his position as an APU and used truck salesman to solicit finder’s fees, deposits and holds on equipment for trucking customers while keeping nearly a million dollars in cash for himself.

The funds were used to buy imported vehicles and a house, as well as to pay off gambling debts.

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, Travis Honaker, 36, of Battlefield, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to serve three years and one month in federal prison without parole. In March 2014, Honaker pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering after an investigation showed he embezzled $945,200 between August 2007 and December 2011 from his employer, Prime Inc.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the Western District of Missouri, Honaker worked as a salesperson at Success Leasing Inc., a subsidiary of Prime Inc. Honaker’s duties were to sell used trucks and APUs after leases on the equipment expired from their previous use.

Prosecutors said that in December 2011, Prime noticed he wasn’t reporting cash payments for APUs Honaker had sold for the company. An audit revealed Honaker had received payments for unauthorized finder’s fees, inspection fees, and deposits on trucks owned by Prime. The payments typically were for $500 or $1,000 per truck and were never reported to the company.

According to the release, prosecutors said Honaker created a shell company in January 2011 to receive the finder’s fees and add a layer to hide the connection between Honaker and the equipment purchasers. Honaker instructed purchasers to wire the money to his account, where he would then forward the funds to his personal bank accounts.

“The illegally obtained funds were used for Honaker’s personal living expenses and paid for such items as a 2005 BMW SUV, a 2009 Range Rover SUV, a down payment and subsequent payments on a residence in Battlefield, and his wife’s extensive gambling expenses,” the news release states.

In addition to prison time, the court also ordered Honaker to pay $945,200 in restitution. Because most of the cash had been spent, Honaker is obligated to make restitution payments after serving his sentence. Honaker’s assets were forfeited to the government to be sold. The proceeds from those items will be used to begin paying the victim restitution, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan. It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation division, and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

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