From The Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM —A former Chick-fil-A employee pleaded guilty today to participating in a conspiracy to defraud his former employer and committing bank fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Patrick M. Davis.
Larry James Black, Jr., 37, of Center Point, the former director of hospitality at Chick-fil-A Five Points, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud before U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala. Black’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 20, 2022. Black’s co-defendant, Joshua Daniel Powell, 40, of Moody, a former manager at the same location, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in June. Powell’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 20, 2021.
According to the plea agreement, between April 2018 and January 2018, Black and Powell devised and implemented a scheme to divert $492,000 in customer payments to bank accounts under their control. Black and Powell used these accounts to receive customer credit card payments intended for Chick-fil-A Five Points. Many of these payments were for catering orders from large customers. To effectuate the scheme, Black and Powell used fraudulent email and digital payment accounts that imitated the look of official Chick-fil-A accounts. In addition to these fraudulent “Chick-fil-A” accounts, Black and Powell also utilized a personal email account belonging to Powell to intercept virtual credit card payments that were made on behalf of an additional customer. Black used the fraud proceeds to support his lifestyle, including the purchase of high-end luxury vehicles and vacations.
In addition to conspiring to defraud Chick-Fil-A Five Points, Black acknowledged in the plea agreement that he provided a false social security number to various financial institutions and executed a scheme to defraud his mortgage lender. In January 2020, Black applied for a mortgage loan. In connection with his loan application, Black forged payroll records and made misrepresentations regarding his income from the Chick-fil-A franchise. As a result of these material misrepresentations, Black was able to secure a mortgage in the amount of $159,948.00 to finance the purchase of a home in Center Point, Alabama.
Black and Powell face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Black also faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for bank fraud.
The U.S. Secret Service Cyber Fraud Task Force investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Canter prosecuted the case.