(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — A former accountant has pleaded guilty to charges resulting from a $6.8 million embezzlement scheme that led to a lifestyle of expensive vehicles and real estate.
Jonathan Weston, 58, of Canonsburg (near Pittsburgh) pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and tax fraud, a recent US Attorney’s Office news release announced. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 3, 2023, and faces a maximum sentence of 58 years in prison and a fine of more than $2.5 million. The actual sentence will be based on the seriousness of his crimes and any criminal history.
According to information presented to the court, Weston was a former accountant for Hillandale Farms of Greensburg (also near Pittsburgh), and from October 2005 to January 2019 he, his personal secretary and the company bookkeeper embezzled some $6.8 million from Hillandale Farms and then laundered that money to purchase vehicles and real estate.
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Weston (either personally, or through his company Cougar Holdings) purchased a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV, a 2003 Lexus SC convertible, a 2010 Lexus LX5 SUV, a 2008 Aston Martin Vantage convertible, a 2013 Lexus GX6 SUV, and a condominium in Gateway Towers in downtown Pittsburgh. Additionally, he used “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for the operation of several car washes and Katie’s Kandy stores which he owned. The company bookkeeper allegedly used stolen funds to purchase a custom 1933 Ford Model 40 coupe, a 2013 Morgan 3-wheeler, a 2010 Bennington Pontoon boat, a 2014 Yamaha wave runner with trailers, and thousands of dollars in credit card expenses. The company bookkeeper died in 2019.
In addition to the embezzlement, Weston failed to file or filed false federal personal income tax returns from 2013 to 2018. He underreported some $566,000 in stolen income. In total, Weston owed nearly $1.2 million to the Internal Revenue Service.
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The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to Weston’s prosecution.