Former AOL HR Chief Admits to Defrauding Company

January 14, 2005 ( - The former chief of human resources at American Online has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, admitting that he perpetrated a scheme that allowed him to profit from sham consulting contracts.

The Associated Press reported that Gregory Horton also defrauded two other former employers. AutoNation and Qwest Communications, in similar schemes to the tune of $2 million. Prosecutors believe Horton defrauded AOL of $100,000, Qwest of $333,000, and AutoNation of $1.8 million.

Horton would structure deals so that contractors would be required to pay companies that Horton had a controlling interest in, according to the AP, and would often hire consultants with the sole purpose of funneling money to himself. Horton could face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing will take place on April 22.

AOL fired Horton in August 2003 after uncovering the fraudulent schemes and then filed a civil suit against the former employee.