by Max Brantley
Kenneth Elser, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Brenda Ann Blair, age 47, of Gentry, Arkansas, pleaded guilty today to one count of Wire Fraud. The guilty plea was accepted by the Honorable Timothy L. Brooks, in the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.
According to court records, beginning at least as early as June 2005, and continuing to on or about September 19, 2014, the defendant, Brenda Blair, devised and implemented a scheme to defraud her employer, Tyson Food, Inc. of $551, 343.52. Blair did this by way of her access to the Pre-65 Retiree Health Insurance Benefits Plan as the manager for the plan. As part of the scheme and artifice to defraud, Blair falsified ACH or wire transactions in that she generated fraudulent wire transfers using the names of actual participants of the plan as the recipients of wire payments from the plan, while using her own bank accounts for the receiving accounts of these wire transfers. Blair initiated these fraudulent wire transfers by way of a bank account maintained by Tyson Food, Inc. for the Pre-65 Retiree Health Insurance Benefits Plan. This resulted in Blair receiving monies from Tyson Foods, Inc., that she was not entitled to in the amount of $551,343.52.
When questioned by agents concerning her conduct, Blair admitted to her wrong doing and advised the agents that she was the only person involved, meaning that no one else participated in her scheme to defraud. Prior to her termination, Blair worked for Tyson Foods, Inc. for over twenty five years, and last held the position of Special Benefits Plan Manager. In her capacity as Special Benefits Plan Mangers, Blair managed contributions into and handled administrative duties related to the Tyson Foods Inc. Pre-65 Retiree Health Insurance Benefit Plan.
This case was investigated by The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and The Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly N. Davis prosecuted the case for the United States.