Thomas Coughlin, the former vice-chairman of Wal-Mart may be jailed for up to 28 years and fined up to £750,000 after pleading guilty to fiddling his expenses.
Coughlin, a former close friend of the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, claimed to have been involved in a covert anti-union spying operation designed by the giant retailer, and to have taken the hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of vouchers as payment, he had previously claimed they were given to employees as bonuses.
The items bought, many with company gift cards included:
All-terrain vehicle $10,000
Luxury dog kennel $2,590
Handmade alligator boots $1,359
Three 12-bore shotguns $1,000
Celine Dion compact disc $9.72
Bottle of Stolichnaya Vodka $24.99
Fishing licence $10.50
Rifle case $119.19
Large Polish sausage $3.54
Coughlin said last year that the expenses claims had been allowed by Wal-Mart to pay him in kind for running a spying operation designed to head off any plans by Wal-Mart employees to organise under a trade union. Unions are not encouraged at Wal-Mart, but many workers’ organisations and public advocacy groups have criticised the company and made claims that it enforces an illegal union ban. Wal-Mart denied this of course.
Sentencing is expected to take place in about three months’ time. However, federal sentencing guidelines suggest that Coughlin should serve no more than two years in jail for the crimes he committed. It is also believed that prosecutors have recommended a more lenient sentence after Coughlin agreed to co-operate with them and plead guilty.