North Carolina man pleads guilty to embezzling from employer after company owner’s death

Published 8:20 am Sunday, January 9, 2022

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A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer following the company owner’s death, according to a prosecutor.

Benjamin Padua Jr., 56, of Huntersville, pleaded guilty to wire fraud on Thursday and was released on bond, U.S. Attorney Dena J. King said in a news release.

Prosecutors said that from September 2019 to February 2021, Padua abused his senior finance position with an unidentified trucking company. He used falsified documents and improper accounting entries to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the news release.

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Following the company owner’s death in October 2019, Padua forged the owner’s signature on a fake employment agreement that he created and backdated to prior to the owner’s death, prosecutors said.

The fraudulent employment agreement aimed to increase Padua’s compensation through higher wages, bonuses, and life insurance benefits. After Padua created the fake employment agreement, he received compensation he wasn’t entitled to, Padua admitted in court.

Padua could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.