An accountant embezzled more than $4 million from a financial management company affiliated with professional golfer Tom Watson, and the thefts went undiscovered until after the accountant left the company.
According to federal prosecutors, Thomas Hauk of Overland Park used much of the stolen money to amass a large collection of expensive cars and motorcycles, many of which were stored in south Kansas City storage units also purchased with stolen funds.
Several of the vehicles were worth $200,000 or more, including a 2009 Ferrari F-430 Scuderia, a 2012 McLaren MP4-12C and a 2006 Ford GT.
The collection also included a 2014 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet that uses only racing fuel and was one of only 50 manufactured. He paid $100,000 for that car in 2014.
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The FBI seized 33 vehicles as part of the investigation, including at least a dozen Ducati motorcycles.
Hauk, 42, also used stolen money to pay living expenses during two marriages and divorces and to purchase jewelry and other items.
He pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to 16 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, forgery and money laundering.
Hauk waived an indictment during his appearance before Senior U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs. Hauk agreed to make restitution of $4,093,771.57. The maximum punishment, if sentences were to be ordered served consecutively, would be 70 years, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Hauk was allowed to remain free until sentencing.
According to court documents, Hauk earned an annual salary of $50,000 to $60,000 during the decade he worked as an accountant for Assured Management Company, based in Westwood.
The company contacted the FBI when it discovered the embezzlement after Hauk left to work for another company in July.
“As soon as we uncovered possible misconduct by this former employee, we notified the FBI as well as the small number of confidential clients impacted,” Bob McGannon, executive vice president of Assured Management, said in a statement after the guilty plea. “We have cooperated fully with the authorities, including providing all necessary information to assist in justice being served. This individual violated the law, our trust and, most importantly, that of our clients.”
Investigators determined that the embezzlement had gone on since at least 2006 and had accelerated in the last few years before Hauk left the company.
According to court records, Assured Management was established in 1983. It has a handful of clients for whom it pays bills, prepares financial statements, works with tax preparers, handles charities and charitable contributions, negotiates contracts and books athletic tournaments.
Though the court documents do not identify the clients, they list among the victims of the embezzlement “professional athlete victim one” and victim one’s “business entity.”
The company shares office space with Tom Watson Enterprises, and Assured Management is listed as the resident agent for Tom Watson Enterprises, according to records of the Kansas secretary of state.
Watson, a Kansas City native, is a 39-time winner on the PGA Tour and was six times PGA Player of the Year and five times the leading money winner.
The U.S. attorney’s office said there were five victims of the embezzlement scheme — four clients and one employee whose name was used to forge checks. One victim lost more than $1.9 million and another lost more than $1.1 million. Assured Management did not identify the victims.
“We are deeply committed to the individuals we serve and have communicated with them regarding the steps we have taken with authorities,” said McGannon’s statement. “We are grateful for the response thus far from our valued clients and appreciate the hard work of the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in bringing this individual to justice.”
According to court documents filed by prosecutors seeking to forfeit the cars and other property that Hauk obtained from the scheme, he bought and traded numerous expensive vehicles with proceeds stolen from clients of Assured Management.
He laundered the money through companies and bank accounts he set up. Hauk deposited checks from the victims into his own company accounts and then wrote checks and cashier’s checks from his companies to his personal accounts.
He bought at least 66 vehicles, according to a review of car title histories, including some he helped buy for relatives.
In some of the transactions, Hauk provided false information to lenders when applying for financing, according to the documents. He claimed to be a certified public accountant, which he is not, and claimed to have an annual income of $300,000 to $400,000.
Besides the wheeling and dealing in cars and motorcycles, Hauk spent embezzled funds on jewelry, tools, auto parts and travel. Hauk used credit cards to make down payments on some vehicles as well as to pay personal expenses. He ran up charges of more than $1.2 million on three credit cards over a five-year period.