ZEELAND, Mich. - Former Herman Miller executive Jerry Lee Akers is facing felony charges that he bilked the office furniture manufacturer of $1.773 million over a five-year period for natural gas services that were never provided.
According to court records and local news reports, Akers, the senior energy manager, worked with a co-conspirator to set up a false company which then contracted with Herman Miller to ostensibly supply natural gas to four of its locations. From June 2010 through July 2015 Herman Miller received and paid fraudulent invoices for gas sales and services not delivered.
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Prosecutors allege Akers received cash payments from the co-conspirator for his part in the scheme. Akers also is being charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; the invoices were emailed and paid via regular mail. If convicted, Akers could face 20 years in prison.
Akers is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Dec. 20 for arraignment and change of plea hearing. According to WZZM13 and the Holland Sentinel, a reduced sentence plea agreement has been offered which would require Akers to plead guilty to the felony information, cooperate with investigators and pay restitution.
Akers' LinkedIn account indicates he has worked at Herman Miller since 2001. In a Dec. 1 statement from Herman Miller, the company referred to Akers as a former employee. It also stated, "Our internal audit organization has confirmed that Mr. Akers’ actions are not expected to have an adverse impact on the company’s reported results going forward."
"As this is an ongoing legal matter, Herman Miller will not provide additional comment at this time.”
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