Woman accused of fraudulently getting $300,000 in gift credit

A Bowling Green woman working for HeathCo used the forged signatures of three supervisors to authorize payments for print ads in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in credits that she redeemed for stays at resorts and tickets for concerts and professional hockey and baseball games, a federal indictment claims.

Annette Thomas was charged Wednesday by a federal grand jury with 10 counts of mail fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and two counts of filing a false tax return.

The indictment alleges that Thomas, who was a sales analyst supervisor with HeathCo, a manufacturer of Heath/Zenith lighting products, unlawfully authorized payments to Professional Sport Publications for “unwanted and unnecessary advertisements” in American sports publications.

The forged signatures of her supervisors were used to authorize amounts that typically came to $15,000 per advertisement.

“In total, she placed approximately $2,696,400 in advertisements,” the indictment states. “Annette Thomas maintained yearly expenditures for the advertisements, within budgetary constraints, for the payment account to avoid financial scrutiny.”

In exchange for the ads, PSP would allocate about 20 percent of the value of the ads to be redeemed by HeathCo as merchandising credits, which are often used by a company to entertain clients and customers at sporting events and concerts.

According to the indictment, Thomas concealed the fact that she received the merchandising credits from company employees and management, and used them for herself.

“(Thomas) generally received $3,000 in merchandising credits per $15,000 advertisement placed with PSP,” the indictment states. “In total, Annette Thomas received approximately $308,954.42 in merchandising credits in the form of concert tickets, sports tickets, hotel reservations, airline reservations, resort reservations and retail gift cards.”

The indictment lists merchandising credits for playoff tickets for the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings hockey teams and the Detroit Tigers baseball team, concert tickets for performances by Van Halen and Guns N’ Roses, tickets for Southwest Airlines flights and reservations at resorts in Florida.

The credits listed were received by Thomas between 2006 and 2012 in amounts varying from $360 to $3,051, according to the indictment.

The three identity theft counts specifically allege that Thomas used the forged signature of one person to issue unauthorized payments for ads for the World Series, the Sugar Bowl and the Liberty Bowl in 2011 and 2012, while the false tax return charges feature claims that she failed to report $30,578 in income for 2010 and $39,665 in income for 2011, along with falsely claiming head of household filing status.

Each mail fraud count carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years. The aggravated identity theft count carries a maximum penalty of two years and each count of filing a false tax return is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Federal court records do not list an attorney for Thomas. An arraignment has been set for June 29.


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