HICKSVILLE, OH (05.11.2017) – Federal authorities say the third person of a three co-conspirator, rogue employee operation, to defraud The Wholesale House (TWH) in Hicksville, Ohio has been found guilty bringing this ongoing investigation to a close.
Marcelene “Marcy” Keesbury, former TWH President, and Charles “Mick” French, former TWH Vice President, both of Fort Wayne, Indiana, plead guilty in November 2016 in US District Court located in Jacksonville, Florida, to costing The Wholesale House nearly five million dollars. The mastermind behind the operation, Justin Pennington of Nocatee, Florida, was found guilty of conspiracy and nine counts of wire fraud by a federal jury in late April.
The three co-conspirators were employed by The Wholesale House in executive positions. They, without the knowledge of the owners and fellow employees, started a fraudulent company named 3 Kings in late 2010 which was in direct competition of TWH. 3 Kings would purchase product at deep discounts from TWH then turn around and sell the items, directly competing with the pricing that TWH was offering to their customers. Pennington was the Information Technology Director at TWH and ran 3 Kings website simultaneously. This caused a significant loss in sales for TWH, damaged customer and vendor relationships, while drastically disrupting the industry market.
The scheme came to a head in 2013 when Steve Height, owner of TWH, started questioning French about 3 Kings and their ability to repay their debt. At a meeting in Florida, Keesbury, French, and Pennington made statements to the Heights and FBI agents about their involvement with 3 Kings and stated that their motive was nothing more than greed.
Sentencing for all parties will be held at a later date in 2017. Keesbury and French face up to five years in prison and a fine. Pennington faces up to 20 years on each of his nine counts. Restitution will be required by all parties.
The Wholesale House is finally able to close this chapter of their story, one of which they never fathomed writing. “Without our wonderful owners, Steve & Mary Height, there would have been no come-back story possible. They have shown that our TWH family is important to them by investing their money, time, effort, and heart back into TWH over the last few years. We couldn’t be more thankful for their generosity” stated Mark Yoder, President of The Wholesale House.
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