Huntersville, N.C. Man Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Dena J. King announced today that Benjamin Padua Jr, 56, of Huntersville, N.C., appeared in federal court and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer following the company owner’s death.

Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to filed plea documents and today’s plea hearing, 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. 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 pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was released on bond. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date was not been set.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the FBI in Charlotte for their investigation of the case.

Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Ryan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.

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