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Former trucking executives charged in fraud scheme with Indianapolis company

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Posted at 4:37 PM, Dec 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-05 16:53:29-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The former COO and CFO of an Indianapolis trucking company were charged in a fraud scheme Thursday that resulted in a loss of more than $60 million in shareholder value.

William Eric Meek, 39, and Bobby Lee Peavler, 40, were charged in an indictment filed in the Southern District of Indiana unsealed Thursday. Both men were executives at Celadon Group Inc., a publicly traded transportation and trucking company.

They each face the following charges:

  • one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and securities fraud
  • five counts of wire fraud
  • two counts of securities fraud
  • one count of conspiracy to make false statements to a public company’s accountants and to falsify books, records, and accounts of a public company
  • and one count of making false statements to a public company’s accountants

Peavler was charged with two additional counts of making false statements to a public company’s accountants.

Both former corporate executives were released on bail Thursday.

The indictment states that in 2016, Meek, Peavler and others at Celadon knew the value of their trucks had declined, due to a slowdown in the market. Many of the trucks had mechanical issues that made them unattractive to drivers, according to the indictment. In response to this, Meek, Peavler and others allegedly “devised a scheme” that hid millions of dollars in losses to shareholders, banks and the public.

They are accused of trading away older trucks to get newer trucks and intentionally inflating the prices on the invoices. They are accused of trying to portray the transactions as purchases and sales to avoid heightened scrutiny.

In response to questions, they allegedly made false and misleading statement to independent auditors, denying they were trades. Peavler is also accused of directing a senior executive and co-conspirator to delete certain emails related to an auditor’s request for information.

Meek and Peavler left Celadon in 2017, according to a corporate release.

“Through their scheme of lies, fraud and misrepresentations as alleged in the Indictment, Meek and Peavler damaged the integrity of the market, the corporation, its shareholders and public investors,” said U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler of the Southern District of Indiana. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting those individuals in corporate America, who choose to commit corporate fraud, in violation of federal law, and have blatant disregard for those with a financial interest in the corporation.”