A Lexington man wanted since 2009 on federal charges that he embezzled more than $8.7 million from a local Pepsi bottling plant has been arrested in southern Virginia.
James T. Hammes, 53, was arrested Saturday in Damascus, Va., the FBI announced Monday.
Hammes, a former controller for the Lexington division of G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers, disappeared after being interviewed by the FBI in February 2009 about allegations that he had opened a fake bank account in the name of a vendor that worked for G&J, then put millions of the company's money into the account. He allegedly then would move the money into personal bank and brokerage accounts.
Hammes had worked as controller for the company's Southern Division in Lexington since 1995 and, according to an FBI news release, "was responsible for all financial accounting and internal controls."
Never miss a local story.
He is accused of taking $8,711,282 from 1998 to 2009.
Three months after Hammes fled, he was indicted in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio on 75 counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
In 2012, his case was featured the CNBC show American Greed: The Fugitives, and America's Most Wanted.
A "Wanted" poster published by the FBI stated that Hammes, who was born in Wisconsin, was an accountant as well as an avid scuba diver and licensed pilot.
At the time of his disappearance, he was married to Deanna Hammes, but Herald-Leader archives indicate she later filed for divorce.
Hammes' previous wife, Joy Johnson Hammes, 40, who worked as community service food program coordinator at God's Pantry, died after a fire at their Turkey Foot Road home in 2003.
James Hammes was out for a walk at the time of the fire, and their teenage daughter, Amanda, was out with friends.
Joy Hammes' family told American Greed and America's Most Wanted that they were suspicious about the cause of the fire because James Hammes had been involved in a number of other fires in the past.
Investigators determined the fire was an accident.
The CNBC show reported that after James Hammes left, his wife and daughter went in a room he kept locked at their Lexington home. There they found books about how to disappear and create a new identity, as well as birth and death certificates for males who would have been about the same age he was.
Hammes was being held Monday by the Southwest Regional Virginia Regional Jail Authority in Abingdon, but is to be returned to Ohio to face the charges against him.
He made his first court appearance in Virginia on Monday, said Todd Lindgren of the FBI office in Cincinnati.
Lindgren said the charges against Hammes were filed in Ohio rather than Lexington because G&J is based in Cincinnati. The privately held company manufactures and distributes Pepsi products.
In its news release, the FBI thanked the Richmond Division of the FBI, Bristol Resident Agency, U.S. Marshals Service, Virginia State Police, Washington County, Virginia Sheriff's Office and the Damascus Police department for helping with the investigation.
No information was available about how investigators found Hammes or what he was doing in Virginia.