Ind. drilling mogul expected to plead in embezzlement case

The public has looked rather unfavorably upon the oil industry in recent years, especially as gas prices have risen and more sustainable energy sources have become available. In light of these negative feelings, one would expect executives in this sector to be inclined to do whatever it takes to ensure that they are well-regarded by consumers. And surely, some have made efforts to shore up their companies' reputations. But a recent case served as a reminder that not all oil companies have learned their lessons – in addition to making clear how far-ranging the effects can be when firms fail to perform duplicate payment audits.

According to TribLive, a federal court recently charged Larry Winckler, a former executive at Indiana-based oil drilling company Falcon Drilling, with embezzling more than $9 million in corporate funds. The formal charges include mail theft and falsifying income tax returns. The alleged crimes took place over a considerable window of time, from February 2004 to February 2012. The prosecuting attorneys claimed that the 53-year-old wrote fraudulent checks, which he then concealed by forging invoices and financial accounting documents.

Court documents claimed that Winckler used the stolen funds for "personal expenses, gambling or uses entirely unrelated to any legitimate Falcon business expense," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The former drilling company executive allegedly perpetrated the scheme in part by billing the company for "'bits' or other fictitious materials."

Reportedly, Winckler and the federal government have worked out a plea deal.

"He'll plead to everything, and we'll see how it plays out," said Martin Dietz, Winckler's attorney, according to TribLive.

Furthermore, Winckler is not the only person to have gone to trial in relation to the alleged embezzlement. In June, Daniel Pikel pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired with Winckler to cover up the embezzlement, TribLive reported. And in January, former Falcon controller Cheryl Brooks pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail theft and tax fraud.

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