By Bee Staff
A U.S. District Court judge in Sacramento today sentenced a tomato hauler to 15 months in prison and fined him $100,000 for bankruptcy fraud.
James. D. Burke, 59, of Vacaville, was convicted by a federal jury on May 27, according to a news release from the Benjamin B. Wagner, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern U.S. District of California.
Burke was formerly the president of Truck-A-Way, a Vacaville trucking company he took over from his father that hauled millions of dollars worth of tomatoes and other agricultural products throughout the Central Valley.
After losing its largest client, Burke and his brother filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the company. During the course of the bankruptcy, he filed false documents and made false statements relating to Truck-A-Way's assets in an attempt to hide those assets from Truck-A-Way's numerous creditors, Wagner said.
Those assets included numerous tractor-trailers that he had used to secure a $3 million loan, and approximately $4 million in Truck-A-Way loans and revenue that Burke had diverted to his own accounts, Wagner said.
In sentencing Burke, Judge Damrell noted that Burke was a "user of people" who had an "arrogance that he found unsettling." Damrell found that Burke used others in the course of committing his fraud, including his wife, children, and mentally-challenged brother, and that such conduct was "repulsive," according to Wagner.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. attorneys Robin Taylor and Kyle Reardon prosecuted the case.