Fayette County

Lexington accountant plans appeal after 8-year sentence imposed for $8.7M embezzlement

James Hammes in his driver’s license photo in 2008, left, and in a photo made available by the Butler County Jail in Virginia after Hammes’ arrest in May 2015.
James Hammes in his driver’s license photo in 2008, left, and in a photo made available by the Butler County Jail in Virginia after Hammes’ arrest in May 2015. Lexington

CINCINNATI (AP) – A defense attorney apparently plans to appeal after an Ohio judge recently handed down an eight-year prison sentence for a Kentucky accountant who spent most of six years as a fugitive in an $8.7 million embezzlement case roaming the Appalachian Trail.

A notice of plans to appeal was filed Tuesday in Cincinnati for 54-year-old James Hammes, a former controller for the Lexington division of G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers.

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott sentenced him June 22.

The eight-year sentence was more than what prosecutors had recommended. Hammes must also pay restitution and be on probation three years afterward.

Dlott cited the large amount of money, his flight to avoid prosecution, and the “collateral damage” he caused to his family.

Hammes pleaded guilty last year to one count of wire fraud, and the government dropped 74 counts.

He fled after an FBI interview in February 2009. He was then suspected of opening a fake bank account in the name of a vendor and putting millions of the company’s money into the account. He then moved the money to personal accounts. A total of $8,711,282 was taken from 1998 to 2009.

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