A former executive of two once-prominent area home-building firms has agreed to plead guilty to stealing more than $440,000 from the companies.
Kim Hutchinson, 51, of Plainfield entered her plea in federal court in Indianapolis on Thursday, the day before the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced it had charged her with wire fraud following an FBI investigation.
Hutchinson is the former treasurer of Greenwood-based J. Greg Allen Builders and Princeton Homes, both of which were operated by developer J. Greg Allen. He also owns a commercial real estate firm that developed downtown’s Allen Plaza.
IBJ reported in June that the two homebuilding businesses closed early this year after Allen filed suit against Hutchinson and Jeff West, the former president of the companies, in Johnson Superior Court in February.
The lawsuit claims West and Hutchinson stole nearly $1 million by co-mingling company funds and concealing unauthorized payments to themselves by claiming the payments were going to vendors. The suit against West is ongoing, Allen said Tuesday morning.
West denies having any role in the scheme and filed a counterclaim in April, asking a judge to enforce a verbal settlement agreement he claims he reached with Allen in 2010 after leaving the company to start his own home-building business.
Allen said Tuesday that he's not surprised by the charges against Hutchinson.
"I'm saddened for Kim and her family," he said. "I wish she would have never did what she did."
According to federal prosecutors, Hutchinson wrote a series of unauthorized checks to herself from Allen's bank accounts totaling $446,419.29 from 2002 through March 2010.
Hutchinson then used her knowledge of accounting methods to hide the checks from her employer.
“Half a million dollars is a lot of money to steal from someone to whom you owe some duty of loyalty as an employee,” U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said in a prepared statement. “We believe Hutchinson violated that duty and will now face the consequences.”
Hutchinson faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but it's unlikely she’ll receive that strict of a sentence. Prosecutors said in the plea agreement that they’ll recommend a lower sentence because Hutchinson cooperated with authorities and has accepted responsibility for her conduct.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office told IBJ on Tuesday that a sentence of between 30 and 40 months would be more appropriate.
Hutchinson’s attorney, Brian Newcomb of Franklin, agreed.
“She has no criminal history and she has cooperated with the government, which is why the recommendation is at the low end of the guidelines,” Newcomb said.
Hutchinson agreed to plead guilty because she’s “just trying to do the right thing” and she’s “not making any excuses,” he said.
Newcomb also said Hutchinson will repay a “significant portion” of her restitution—the entire amount of the stolen funds—prior to sentencing.
A sentencing date has not been set.