Ex-Americable Exec Guilty of Pentagon Capers

Former Americable International Inc. controller Alice Pirchesky was convicted on 72 counts for her role in trying to swindle the Pentagon out of $8 million, AP reported.

A federal jury convicted Pirchesky for her part in a scheme to illegally take advantage of a military program intended to ease the financial losses companies suffered when military bases closed in the 1990s, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami said.

Americable issued $8 million in phony invoices in 1997 to cover its lost investment in cable operations at bases that closed, primarily in California and the Northeast. But the work listed on the invoices was never performed, and Americable's operations never made any payments, prosecutors said, according to AP.

Pirchesky either personally entered the fake invoices into company records or told accounting workers to do so, and she gave a government auditor the fake invoices, AP reported.

In a separate scam, Americable undercounted its customer base by at least 23% when paying cable networks including A&E Network, Discovery Channel, ESPN and MTV: Music Television for their programming, prosecutors said.

About $8 million in illegal savings from the underreporting went to Charles Hermanowski, then the head of Americable. He disappeared two months before charges were filed in 2001, but he was arrested one year later in Australia and he faces extradition, AP reported.

Former vice president of finance Rickey Hensley has been sentenced to 31 months in prison for his role in the fraud, according to AP

Family-owned, Miami-based Americable agreed to pay $22 million in fines, restitution and forfeiture last year as part of a plea bargain on two federal conspiracy counts, AP reported.