Pet Food Executive Lived Like Fat Cat, Allegedly Bilked Nestle-Purina $250,000

Jul 22, 2009 at 11:41 am
Thomas Faulkner on the Purina Cat Chow diet.
Thomas Faulkner on the Purina Cat Chow diet.
The former director of marketing for Nestle Purina Petcare has been indicted on fraud charges for use of his company credit card.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Thomas Faulkner billed
the company more than $250,000 in fraudulent invoices that he used for personal items and travel, including trips to Disney World and college football games.

Faulkner served as director of marketing for Nestle Purina Petcare and its subsidiary, Check Mark Communications, from 2005 to June 17 of this year.

The indictment states that Faulkner
had the authority to expense certain costs to Nestle Purina to implement the plans and strategies on a company American Express credit card.  Some of those legitimate expenses included entertainment, meals and travel, and promotional items including Sirius radios, ipods and gift cards.

However, as alleged in the indictment, when Faulkner obtained the invoices or receipts for these legitimate expense items, he would use the document as a template to create false and unauthorized bills and invoices and submit them to Nestle Purina as legitimate expense items. 

These expenses would be on the books of Nestle Purina and paid to Faulkner for reimbursement for fraudulent bills.

John Gillies, special agent in charge of the FBI in St. Louis, used Faulkner 's arrest and indictment as a warning. "No corporate executive, no matter how high on the ladder, is above the law," says Gilles. "The FBI will aggressively investigate and hold accountable anyone who participates in corporate fraud, whether it involves swindling millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Faulkner, 40, of O'Fallon, Illinois, was indicted by a federal grand jury July 1, on one felony count of mail fraud. The indictment remained suppressed until the arrest of the defendant earlier today.

If convicted, mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.