Fayette County

Man stole $374,000 by writing Kentucky company’s checks to his wife. Prison is next.

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An executive at a Lexington-based oil and gas company pleaded guilty in connection with stealing $374,192.89 from his employer.

Franklin Fletcher, who listed Paintsville as his address, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Lexington to one charge of devising a scheme to defraud NYTIS Exploration and one charge of wire fraud.

Fletcher was the accounting and gas sales manager for NYTIS for several years. The company has an office in Lexington and conducts oil and natural gas drilling and production in Eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia for Carbon Energy Corporation, according to a court record and Carbon’s web site.

Fletcher generated checks from NYTIS to his wife, then altered the checks to make it appear they’d been issued to legitimate customers or clients to cover the misappropriation, according to a court document.

In some cases, Fletcher carried out the scheme in the computer system by substituting his wife’s name as the owner of a well to get a check issued in her name, then putting the correct name back on the account.

Other times, Fletcher printed checks himself, which he signed using the signature stamp of the company president, according to a court document.

Fletcher endorsed the checks and put the money in his personal accounts, according to the court document.

Ever wonder what embezzlement is? This white collar crime is hurting businesses all over.

The court record said Fletcher forged his wife’s signature to cash the checks and she didn’t know what he was doing. The two have divorced.

The scheme went on from September 2012 to March 2018.

Fletcher’s plea agreement set the amount of restitution to the company at $374,192.

He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, but his sentence will likely be less under advisory federal guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves scheduled sentencing in August.