Ex-Wal-Mart Exec Sues over 'Mental Anguish' from Embezzlement Probe

June 9, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The former second in command at giant retailer Wal-Mart Stores has charged in a lawsuit that the company's general counsel led a "witch hunt" in investigating embezzlement charges against him.

class=”times”> An Associated Press news report said the charge came from Tom Coughlin, who was ultimately convicted of the embezzlement. Coughlin says Tom Mars caused him mental anguish during the probe.  

class=”times”> “(Mars) let his zeal to be a prosecutor blind him from a fair and impartial search for the truth,” the suit says. “He allowed his desire to curry favor with the senior executives at Wal-Mart to turn an ‘investigation’ into a personal mission to destroy Mr. Coughlin.”

class=”times”> Although he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, Coughlin contended the funds he took were to reimburse himself for trying to uncover union activities within Wal-Mart. The company said no such union project existed.

class=”times”> In a statement last week, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore denied the allegations in Mr. Coughlin’s counterclaim: “The allegations in Mr. Coughlin’s amended counterclaim are simply not true. The facts are that Mr. Coughlin’s conduct was fully investigated by the FBI, including his phony union story. Consequently, Mr. Coughlin pled guilty to felony wire fraud and felony tax evasion charges.”

class=”times”> Coughlin was vice chairman of Wal-Mart when he resigned before being charged with fraud and tax evasion. Wal-Mart said he stole cash, gift cards and equipment valued at about $500,000.

class=”times”> Coughlin was sentenced to 1,500 hours of community service and home-confinement for 27 months, which he is currently serving, and had to pay $400,000 in restitution (See  Coughlin Pleads Guilty to Wal-Mart Misappropriation Charges ).