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Conviction won in embezzling case

by Lora Abcarian | March 18, 2009
David Charles Lenihan, the former controller of two Washington fruit warehouses, has been ordered to serve 21 months in prison and make restitution in the amount of $412,000 to Underwood Fruit & Warehouse Co. in White Salmon, WA.

The order was issued March 12 by U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane, WA.

Mr. Lenihan was previously convicted in Yakima County Superior Court on felony theft charges. He was ordered to pay $66,000 in restitution and sentenced to five years in state prison.

His federal and state prison sentences will run concurrently.

According to official records at the Yakima County Superior Court Clerk's Office, Mr. Lenihan was arrested Nov. 8, 2007, following a yearlong investigation by the Yakima Police Department. Documents indicated that Mr. Lenihan embezzled a total of $2,135,547.61 from Washington Fruit & Produce Co. in Yakima, WA, and Underwood Fruit & Warehouse Co. in White Salmon, WA. Investigators said that Mr. Lenihan owned fruit ranches that were considered the properties of the two companies. Both companies paid production and marketing costs for crops over a nine-year period, with Mr. Lenihan receiving net proceeds.

Mr. Lenihan changed start and end balances for the farms' accounts, thus lowering his debt and causing the companies to overpay Mr. Lenihan for fruit. The discrepancies were initially noted in company audits in 2005 after Mr. Lenihan was fired from one of the companies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was called into the case to investigate forged checks in an aggregate amount of $412,212.

Washington Fruit Co. and Underwood are pursuing civil lawsuits at this time.