Two men get prison time for defrauding House of Raeford

Former employees must both pay restitution in excess of $2 million.

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Two former House of Raeford sales employees convicted on fraud-related charges were sentenced to serve time in prison and pay restitution.

William Ross Hickman, 49, Arcadia, Louisiana; and Brian K. Whiteman, 48, Haughton, Louisiana, were sentenced for their crimes on October 2 after pleading guilty on March 8.

United States District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote sentenced Hickman to 52 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Hickman was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,693,221. Whiteman was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release. In addition, he was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,183,949.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Hickman and Whiteman participated in a scheme to defraud which began prior to 2018 and involved Raeford Farms of Louisiana, where Hickman was employed as the sales manager and Whiteman was as the assistant sales manager at the production plant in Arcadia, Louisiana.

DOJ, in a press release, stated that Hickman developed a scheme to fraudulently divert business from House of Raeford by using Group 7792 as an intermediary to purchase chicken frames from Raeford Farms. Hickman used his position as sales manager to provide favorable sales terms to other entities to the detriment of Raeford Farms. Hickman had a pre-arranged agreement with an unnamed individual and his corporation to sell the chicken frames to Heritage Food Sales (Heritage), 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 acting in concert with him, 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 in these chicken frame transactions. As assistant sales manager for House of Raeford, 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 House of Raeford losing $2 million.

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