Brenda Blair, 47, of Gentry and a former Tyson Foods' employee pleaded guilty to wire fraud of $551,343.52 on Friday (Sept. 4) in the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.
Federal Judge Timothy Brooks accepted the plea following investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court records, Blair devised a scheme to defraud Tyson Foods of more than half million dollars beginning at least as early as June 2005, and continuing to September 2014.
Blair used her access to the Pre-65 Retiree Health Insurance Benefits Plan as the manager for the plan. As part of the scheme Blair falsified wire transactions in that she generated fraudulent wire transfers using the names of actual participants of the plan as the recipients of wire payments from the plan, while using her own bank accounts for the receiving accounts of these wire transfers.
Blair initiated these fraudulent wire transfers by way of a bank account maintained by Tyson Food, Inc. for the Pre-65 Retiree Health Insurance Benefits Plan. This resulted in Blair receiving monies from Tyson Foods to which she was not entitled. When questioned by agents concerning her conduct, Blair admitted to her wrong doing and advised the agents that she was the only person involved, meaning that no one else participated in her scheme to defraud.
Prior to her termination, Blair worked for Tyson Foods, Inc. for more than twenty five years, and last held the position of special benefits Plan manager. In that capacity Blair managed contributions into and handled administrative duties related to the Tyson Foods Inc. Pre-65 Retiree Health Insurance Benefit Plan.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.