A former vice president of Illinois-based MillerCoors was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on May 16 for defrauding the brewer out of about $8.6 million between 2003 and 2013. The 60-year-old man entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea agreement in May 2016, but his sentencing was delayed until the cases of seven other individuals involved in the scheme were resolved.
The single count of wire fraud could have resulted in a prison sentence of 20 years. Court papers reveal that the man received more lenient treatment because he provided what prosecutors referred to as substantial cooperation. The judge passing sentence also remarked that the man seemed to be genuinely remorseful. The U.S. attorney prosecuting the case is said to have asked the judge to send the man to prison for 64 months.
The man and the seven other individuals charged admitted to billing MillerCoors for promotional events that did not take place or sending inflated invoices for events that did. These events included golf tournaments and food and beer gatherings that were supposed to have taken place at venues such as casinos and flea markets. The group is said to have used the money to take expensive vacations, purchase collectible firearms and invest in businesses including bars, hotels and an arena football team.
This case serves as a reminder of how severe the penalties for committing white collar crimes can be, but it also reveals that defendants who cooperate with prosecutors may be given far more lenient sentences. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys could advise their clients to enter into plea agreements and offer to help prosecutors when the evidence against them is persuasive and overwhelming.