Lubbock Businessman Admits to Money Laundering - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/1/07

Lubbock Businessman Admits to Money Laundering

A Lubbock man faces up to ten years in prison for defrauding his company out of more than $2 million.

Donovan "Donnie" Frank Laughlin, 60, pleaded guilty on Thursday, to money laundering.

Laughlin was general manager of Wool Growers Central Storage Co., Inc. in Ozona, since 1991. The company operated warehouses that stored mohair and wool until it could be sold. It also acted as an agent and fiduciary for mohair and wool producers. If a producer agreed to sell at an offered price, then Wool Growers collected the sales price, deducted storage and commission costs, and then paid the balance to the producer whose mohair or wool had been sold. Wool Growers, which had mohair and wool storage warehouses in Ozona and Sanderson, Texas, also had a retail business that sold farm and ranch supplies.

Laughlin admitted that from March 2000 until late May 2006, he carried out a scheme to defraud Wool Growers by selling their mohair and wool and not paying the producers/owners monies to which they were entitled. While Laughlin did conduct legitimate sales at the direction of an owner/producer, he used that apparent authority, without the knowledge of the owner/producers to arrange the sale of mohair or wool in storage at Wool Growers.

Instead of deducting storage and commissions from these sales and paying over the balance to the owner/producer of the mohair or wool that was sold, Laughlin would either keep the money himself, or after payment was received by wire transfer or check, transfer the sales proceeds from the mohair/wool sales bank account to the Wool Growers retail business bank account. He would then use those monies for regular business expenses of the Wool Growers retail business or were fraudulently taken by Laughlin, often in the form of unauthorized additional salary checks and cash.

Laughlin transferred approximately $2,072, 326.56 to the business checking account. This amount represents the proceeds of the sceme to defraud and money paid by the buyers of mohair and wool for unauthorized sales. The other monies from the fraudulent sales, once transferred to the business checking account, were used for the ordinary business expenses of Wool Growers retail business. As the general manager, Laughlin benefitted from these payments because they made the retail business appear to be more successful and ensure that his position and authority at Wool Growers would continue.

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