A Lawrence man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for embezzling $686,905 from a pharmaceutical company using bogus expense reports.
In a hearing last week in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., Judge John W. Lungstrum sentenced Gene E. Abernathy to 37 months in prison for one count of mail fraud. According to court records, Abernathy admitted stealing the money from Pharmacia Corp., now Pfizer, between 1998 and February 2002 while working as a sales representative.
Working out of his home in Lawrence, Abernathy "took advantage of an apparent lack of internal controls over expense accounts," according to court documents. Personal items he bought on his expense account included $56,000 in Hy-Vee gift cards, according to court records.
Prosecutors alleged that even after Abernathy entered his plea this summer and was awaiting sentencing, he kept spending the gift cards for example, using them to buy $1,300 in liquor in a five-day period. As a condition of his post-release supervision, Abernathy will not be allowed to work in a job in which he oversees finances and won't be able to open any new lines of credit without a probation officer's approval.