Two men pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit fraud while working at the House of Raeford Farms plant in Arcadia, Louisiana.

William Ross Hickman, 48, and Brian K. Whiteman, entered guilty pleas and are scheduled to bee sentenced on July 12. Hickman worked for House of Raeford as a sales manager, while Whiteman was an assistant sales manager.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the pair, while employed by House of Raeford, developed a scheme to fraudulently divert business from the company by using   Group 7792, an intermediary, to purchase chicken frames – the core of the chicken that remains after breasts, thighs, wings and legs are processed. The release further stated that Hickman had a pre-arranged agreement with an unnamed individual and his corporation to sell the chicken frames to Heritage Food Sales, which was another company controlled by Hickman. Heritage paid Group 7792 a guaranteed return for each transaction but never took possession of the chicken frames or added anything of value to the transaction. Hickman would then sell the same chicken frames to a poultry wholesaler in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for profit.

To further the scheme to defraud, Hickman and others involved, sent invoices by email from Arcadia, through interstate commerce, for Heritage to receive payment for the chicken frames. Hickman and Whiteman conspired together to conceal the involvement of Heritage from House of Raeford Farms in these transactions. 


As assistant sales manager, Whiteman was responsible for tracking inventory and the details regarding all shipments. Whiteman provided this type of information to Hickman to further the conspiracy to defraud in order to get a higher price for chicken frame loads sold by Heritage. In exchange for his participation in the conspiracy to defraud, Whiteman understood and agreed with Hickman that Heritage would pay him through his own business entity, All Trade Enterprise, LLC. Hickman would pay Whiteman a monthly commission through All Trade and occasionally to him personally. The transactions conducted during the time period of this investigation resulted in an approximate loss of $2,183,950 to House of Raeford.

Under these charges, both defendants could face up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Alexander C. Van Hook, Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tennille M. Gilreath.