Former Olympus Employee Heads to State Prison in $374,000 Scam
Despite pleas from family and friends, Benjamin Wilson is sentenced to state prison for what prosecutor calls 'methodical, ongoing' fraud scheme. Judge decries system's 'double standard' giving leniency to corporations for similar actions.
A former Olympus employee will spend between 16 months and seven years under state supervision for defrauding the company of more than $374,000 in what several character witnesses called a misguided attempt to provide for his family.
Benjamin Wilson was arrested last spring in Katy, TX after internal auditors at Olympus called local police when they found invoice irregularities. After an investigation, police were able to determine Wilson, who worked in the asset protection department at the Upper Saucon facility, was invoicing Olympus for televisions he was then selling on eBay.
"I saw a coupon for a television one day in the mail and the idea popped into my head," Wilson said in Lehigh County court Tuesday, Oct. 23. "I would use Olympus' discount and sell the televisions."
Wilson told the court his final take of roughly $180,000 cash (Olympus paid $374,000 for the televisions) went to cover home improvements on an older home, a late-model Honda, moving expenses, medical bills, credit score help and Penn State. The remainder of the funds went to cover what Wilson called "living beyond [the Wilson family] means, vacations, eating out, lessons for [Wilson's daughters]."
Tearing up several times, Wilson listened as each of his friends and family members addressing the court spoke of his "misguided" devotion to his family, his love of his daughters, and the shock each felt when they found out Wilson was arrested.
"When I heard, I called my wife and said 'how can this be?'" said Jim Thorpe resident Fred Schleifer, who spoke on Wilson's behalf.
Wife Emily Wilson spoke of the impact Wilson's arrest had on their three daughters. "The girls miss him very much," Emily Wilson said, breaking down several times during her statement. "My youngest asks her Sunday School teacher if God will forgive her daddy. A little girl shouldn't have to worry about those things."
Lehigh County Assistant District Attorney Paul Bernardino argued that the crime deserved a state sentence for Wilson's extensive coverup and the methodical nature of the crime. "When we started investigating, we thought multiple [Olympus employees] were involved. Wilson shouldn't get the same sentence as someone who steals and pawns a $100,000 ring."
"What he did was horribly wrong," Judge James Anthony said. "But what about corporate bailouts? Why do we hold weak individuals to a higher standard than corporations?"
Even Anthony felt that Wilson made significant strides taking responsibility for his actions. "I don't get a lot of [defendants] through here who admit their wrongdoing."
In the end, Anthony sentenced Wilson to 16 months to seven years under state supervision. Because Wilson was a first-time offender, the sentence was immediately reduced four months to a minimum of 12 months plus time served.
Wilson apologized one more time to the court, but stated that his apologies were sincere.
"I'm not saying I'm sorry only because I've been caught," Wilson told Anthony. "In fact, being caught was the best thing that ever happened to me."