Atlanta business owner pleads guilty to wire fraud in $5.7M kickback scheme

The co-owner of an Atlanta-based company pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a wire fraud charge for his role in a vendor kickback scheme that defrauded Rite Aid Corp. out of $5.7 million.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Larry Nuckols, 69, of Georgia, engaged in the scheme with co-owner Vance Taylor and James Pilsner, a former vice president of advertising for Rite Aid. Nuckols and Taylor own Nuvision Inc., a consumer electronics company.

Investigators said the scheme ran from 1995 to August 2017. Under the arrangement, Pilsner would approve Nuvision’s invoices, some of which were false and inflated, for payment by Rite Aid. In exchange, Pilsner received a kickback from those payments.

Cumberland County-based Rite Aid allegedly paid Nuvision approximately $45.3 million between 2001 and August 2017. The kickbacks totaled about $5.7 million, including about $5.1 million to Pilsner.

Roughly $634,300 was paid to other Rite Aid employees designated by Pilsner, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. However, officials have declined to comment on whether there are any active investigations of other employees.

An attorney for Nuckols was not immediately available for comment. At the time of entering his guilty plea, Nuckols paid restitution to Rite Aid in the amount of $1.9 million. He also forfeited a $1.3 million yacht and his interests in nine parcels of real estate located in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Costa Rica.

Pilsner pleaded guilty in October to wire fraud and tax evasion charges. Taylor is awaiting trial in February. He was indicted in September on 40 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Jason Scott
Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com.

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