Date: May 5, 2020
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Robert R. Burton of Madisonville, Louisiana pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court to embezzling $763,887 from Omnis Health Inc. ("Omnis") and tax evasion. Burton was charged in an Information in February with wire fraud and tax evasion related to his embezzlement scheme.
According to court documents, between July 2013 and May 2017, Burton was the president of Nashville-based Omnis, which sold diabetic testing kits. Burton entered into a plea agreement, in which he admitted that from December 2013 through January 2017, he embezzled approximately $763,887 from Omnis by submitting false and fraudulent reimbursement requests to the controller of Omnis, claiming that he had purchased supplies and incurred travel expenses which he had not. To justify his reimbursement requests, Burton fabricated receipts to include with his fraudulent reimbursement requests.
To accomplish a large portion of his scheme, Burton submitted reimbursement requests for diabetic testing products, falsely claiming he had purchased those products. Burton claimed that he was using personal funds to purchase "grey market" diabetic testing supplies on the open market; that he was purchasing the supplies so Omnis could conduct research; that he was purchasing lower-priced "bootleg" diabetic testing supplies to take them off the market; and that he was sending the products to Omnis's parent company for testing. Burton never actually purchased the supplies, but instead he visited multiple online vendors, such as Amazon or Diabetessupplies4less.com, placed the products in his online shopping cart, printed the computer screens displaying his shopping cart as the "receipt," and then attached those "receipts" to his reimbursement requests. Burton also fabricated credit card transaction receipts falsely showing he had purchased the products, and attached those fabricated receipts with his reimbursement requests. Burton was reimbursed at least $484,328 for supplies that he never purchased.
Burton also admitted that he frequently submitted false travel expense reimbursements and travel advances, claiming that he traveled for business to meet with suppliers, customers, and individuals from the corporate office, and to attend conferences. In fact, Burton did not take the majority of the flights for which he was reimbursed approximately $203,747.83. Similar to how he falsified his expense reports for diabetic testing supplies, Burton would visit an airline's website, print an itinerary that displayed a cost for the flight, and submit that as the receipt without ever purchasing the flights. In addition to the airline reimbursements, Burton falsely claimed that he had attended conferences and fabricated credit card transaction receipts of at least $102,056.
In an effort to further conceal the fraud, rather than depositing the reimbursement checks into his bank accounts, Burton cashed them at a bank or a check cashing business and either spent the cash or deposited it onto prepaid debit cards. Burton often used the funds for gambling.
Burton also failed to report the embezzled funds on his personal tax returns for tax years 2014 through 2016 and failed to timely file his 2017 personal tax return. In addition, he provided false income information to his tax return preparer by omitting the embezzled income. The total loss to the IRS for tax years 2014 through 2017 is $295,129.
Burton faces up to 20 years in prison on the charge of wire fraud and up to five years in prison on the charge of tax evasion, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count when he is sentenced on August 28, 2020.
This case was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Booth.