Thomas Hauk lived large for years on the $4 million he stole from his employer.
On Wednesday the Overland Park man learned that he will be living in a federal prison for the next nine years.
Hauk, 42, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Kansas City where he pleaded guilty last December to the large-scale embezzlement from Westwood-based Assured Management, a financial services company associated with professional golfer Tom Watson.
While earning an annual salary of $50,000 to $60,000 as an accountant for Assured Management, Hauk concocted various schemes to steal money from the company and its clients.
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The thefts took place for nearly a decade and were only discovered after Hauk left the company for another job in July 2015.
Unlike many defendants in fraud cases who use stolen funds to gamble or support drug habits, Hauk used much of the money to amass a collection of expensive cars and motorcycles as well as to pay living expenses and bills.
Many of those vehicles were subsequently seized by federal officials. In April, the U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off some of those vehicles and raised more than $1.4 million to help make restitution to the victims.
At Wednesday’s hearing, defense attorney Erin Thompson asked the judge to deviate from sentencing guidelines and impose a less severe sentence.
She said Hauk should receive some benefit from cooperating with authorities and sparing the victims from having to testify at trial. She also argued that the sooner he is out of prison, the sooner he can begin working to pay back his victims.
Hauk also asked for leniency, telling the judge that he was sorry for the “multitude of mistakes” he had made.
“I want to work hard for the rest of my life to pay back the victims every penny they deserve,” he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Pansing Brown said that while Hauk deserved some credit for his cooperation, “all of this cooperation occurred after he was caught.”
Brown said that Hauk knew that one of the victims in the case is an elderly woman who suffers from dementia and cannot manage her own finances.
She also noted that before moving to the Kansas City area, Hauk had embezzled $70,000 from another employer in Indiana. That employer did not prosecute the case after Hauk paid him back, she said.
In imposing the sentence, Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said that while nine years is a long time for a white collar crime, “it is well-justified in this case.”
Hauk was allowed to remain free on bond and ordered him to surrender to federal prison authorities on Oct. 24. But at the prosecutor’s request, he ordered Hauk to surrender all of his credit cards.
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’s former wife has filed a civil suit against the company and its directors as a result of the thefts.
Linda Watson’s lawsuit alleges that company officials were “asleep at the wheel” as Hauk systematically used her account and trust accounts set up for her and her parents as his “personal piggy bank.”