A former comptroller of a Missouri carrier was sentenced Friday to 5 years in prison without parole after stealing $4.9 million from his employer.
David VanWinkle, 61, of Neosho, Missouri, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Springfield to wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay taxes. He entered into the plea agreement following an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.
VanWinkle worked for Frontier Leasing Incorporated based in Joplin, Missouri for 22 years. As a comptroller, he was responsible for collecting payroll taxes and turning that money into the IRS. The U.S. attorney’s office said VanWinkle admitted to withholding $435,896 in federal taxes, Social Security and FICA from employee’s paychecks.
By pleading guilty he also admitted to stealing almost $5 million from Frontier Leasing between June 2008 and December 2013 by setting up a secret company bank account. He then used money he diverted into the account for personal expenses and gambling, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Prosecutors and the FBI say the defendant put significant financial strain on the company. While VanWinkle was stealing millions, his employer and its 100 workers were taking voluntary pay cuts to keep the company going, according to FBI reports.
A tax report from a financial institution finally prompted federal agents to examine unusual deposits that VanWinkle made into the business accounts of Van Winkle Accounting and VanWinkle Farms while serving as comptroller at FLI.
VanWinkle was also ordered by the U.S. District Judge in Missouri to forfeit to the government almost $5 million, a 2013 Holland tractor, a 2007 Hummer H3, a 2012 John Deere seed drill, and $28,086 that was seized from various bank accounts.