Man admits hijacking his employer after owner dies

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) – A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer following the death of the business owner, according to a prosecutor.

Benjamin Padua Jr., 56, of Huntersville, pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud and was released on bail, US lawyer Dena J. King said in a press release.

Prosecutors said that from September 2019 to February 2021, Padua abused his senior financial position at an unidentified trucking company. He used forged documents and incorrect accounting entries to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the press release.

Following the death of the business owner in October 2019, Padua forged the owner’s signature on a fake employment contract he created and backdated before the owner died, prosecutors said.

The fraudulent employment contract was aimed at boosting Padua’s pay through higher wages, bonuses and life insurance benefits. After Padua created the bogus employment contract, he received compensation to which he was not entitled, Padua admitted in court.

Padua could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

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