BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a Birmingham man to eight years in prison and ordered him to repay $10.9 million he embezzled from the Shelby County scrap metal brokerage where he was chief financial officer, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger Stanton.
U.S. District Court Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced THOMAS L HINSON JR., 70, on five counts of wire fraud for depositing checks stolen from Strickland Trading Inc. into the account of Strickland Trading Company, LLC, a company Hinson formed to carry out his embezzlement. Hinson pleaded guilty to the charges in March. He must report to prison July 31.
Along with the millions in restitution that Hinson must pay, he also must forfeit his interest in properties in Huntsville, Birmingham, Virginia Beach, Va., Lutz, Fla., and Sevierville, Tenn.
Hinson “abused his position as Chief Financial Officer of Strickland Trading, Inc., and violated his long-running friendships with Strickland Trading’s principals, to perpetuate a nine years long scheme to defraud,” the government states in its sentencing memorandum.
The company’s principals and employees suffered substantial financial hardship because of Hinson’s long-term crime, the memorandum says.
The five wire fraud counts Hinson pleaded guilty to represent five of the more than 225 checks totaling more than $11.2 million that were intended for Strickland Trading Inc., but which Hinson deposited into his Strickland Trading Company, LLC, account, between April 2007 and April 2016. He used the money he embezzled over the years to pay expenses and purchase real estate, automobiles, and other assets for himself, his family, and friends.
According to the court documents, Hinson conducted his scheme as follows:
Hinson was a certified public accountant in private practice who worked for Strickland Trading Inc. from 1991 to April 2016. In 2000, he began working as Strickland Trading Inc.’s CFO. In April 2007, Hinson filed documents with the State of Alabama creating Strickland Trading Company, LLC, and provided the name and address of a friend in Madison County as its organizer so he could conceal his own association with the new company.
Using the similarity in the names of the two companies, Hinson took checks mailed to Strickland Trading Inc. by its customers and deposited the checks into his Strickland Trading Company, LLC, account for his personal use. He made false entries in the financial records of Strickland Trading Inc., prepared false financial statements and made other false representations to Strickland Trading Inc. corporate officers to conceal his embezzlement.
The FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin prosecuted.