A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to charges related to the embezzlement of a large sum of money from his trucking company employer following the death of the company owner.

On Thursday, January 6, Benjamin Padua Jr, 56, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of North Carolina.

Authorities say that from September 2019 to February 2021, Padua abused his senior finance position with his employer, identified in court documents as “Trucking Company,” and used falsified documents and improper accounting entries to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars.

From the news release:

As part of the scheme, Padua admitted in court today that, following the Trucking Company owner’s death in October 2019, Padua forged the owner’s signature on a fake employment agreement Padua created and backdated to prior to the owner’s death. The fraudulent employment agreement purported to increase Padua’s compensation significantly through higher wages, bonuses, and life insurance benefits. As Padua admitted in court today, after he created the fake employment agreement, Padua received substantial compensation from the Trucking Company, to which he was not entitled.

Padua faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Padua has been released on bond pending sentencing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Charlotte Division spearheaded the investigation.

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