United States District Judge Brian Davis today sentenced 30-year-old Justin Gregory Pennington who resides on Magnolia Shoals Way in Ponte Vedra Beach, together with 54-year-old Marcelene M. Keesbury and 50-year-old Charles M. French, both of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for their roles in a multi-million-dollar conspiracy from 2016.
A federal jury found Pennington guilty of one count of conspiracy and nine counts of wire fraud on April 27, 2017, according to a report filed with Historic City News. Keesbury and French pled guilty in October 2016.
When the Office of the United States Attorney reported the conviction in this case and sentencing, originally set for August 2, 2017, local reporters were informed that Pennington was facing up to 20-years in federal prison on each count and mandatory restitution of approximately $5 million.
Pennington was only sentenced to five-years and five-months in federal prison and was ordered to pay $4,075,000 in restitution; despite being determined to have been the “kingpin” in the scheme to defraud his employer and its investors out of millions of dollars.
Keesbury and French were both sentenced to three-years and five-months in federal prison and were also ordered to pay $4,075,000 in restitution.
While Pennington was employed as an Information Technology Director at The Wholesale House, an Ohio-based company with offices in Jacksonville, he and his co-conspirators created a fraudulent company named 3 Kings LLC. Pennington and his co-conspirators illegally competed with The Wholesale House by using confidential sales information to purchase products from the company, at or near cost. The men would resell those products to the originally intended consumers and retailers.
According to evidence presented at trial, “3 Kings LLC” purchased nearly $40 million of products from The Wholesale House, unbeknownst to the owners. Pennington and his co-conspirators spent tens of thousands of dollars on themselves, with Pennington incurring credit card balances of up to $100,000 per month; all the while owing his employer millions of dollars in unpaid invoices.
The Wholesale House owners testified that they had personally infused more than $7 million into the company to ensure its survival and to protect the jobs of the company’s more than 60 employees.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Mark Devereaux.