A Texarkana man embezzled more than $25,000 in a phony beer keg scheme while working a sales and delivery route for an area beer distributor in 2013 and 2014.
Joseph Anthony Osborne, 34, paid back $27,100 to Eagle Distributors as part of a plea bargain that includes a five-year probation in Miller County. Osborne plead guilty to felony theft of property Tuesday at a hearing before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones with the help of Texarkana lawyer Joe Tyler.
Osborne was working for Eagle Distributing in a position that combined the job duties of an account manager and a delivery driver when the company discovered he had been stealing cash by exploiting the credit customers receive for returning empty beer kegs, according to court records. Eagle Distributing provided Miller County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell with evidence that Osborne’s theft spanned at least June 10, 2013 to Aug. 1, 2014.
Osborne drove a truck loaded with product to bars and restaurants on his route. An invoice for customer purchases was created and printed by Osborne using equipment in the truck.
When a bar or restaurant paid in cash, Osborne would void out their original invoice after giving a correct receipt to the customer and print a new one he turned in to Eagle Distributing. The new receipt included bogus $50 credits for the return of empty beer kegs.
When customers purchase kegs for draft beer sales, the price includes a $50 deposit which is refundable when the empty keg is returned to the distributor.
If, for example, a customer bought $500 worth of product off of Osborne’s Eagle Distributing truck and paid for it in cash, Osborne would provide a correct invoice to the customer and accept a $500 payment. When the transaction was over, Osborne voided the accurate invoice, and created a new one for the home office which included added credits for empty kegs, allowing him to steal without immediate detection.
None of Eagle Distributing’s cash-paying customers who were served by Osborne knew of the scheme. Osborne’s fake invoices involved 11 Texarkana restaurants and bars. Of those, only three serve draft beer and actually had empty beer kegs to return to the distributor.
Mitchell said Osborne has paid in full the $27,100 he owed in restitution.