Man sentenced to prison for embezzlement

·2 min read

Oct. 8—CHARLOTTE — Richard Allen Clark, 55, of Lenoir, was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 48 months in prison for embezzling more than one million dollars from his former employer.

In addition to the prison term imposed, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell also ordered Clark to pay $980,000 as restitution to the family, as well as $194,750 to the IRS. Clark will also serve three years of supervised release, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice.

Chad Gragg and his brother Neal Gragg owned Buffalo Creek Nurseries Inc. and Robert M. Gragg & Sons Nursery, where Clark served as the office manager for both companies from January 2013 to May 2019.

Clark admitted in court that he used the stolen funds to pay for his personal lifestyle, including making payments for his home mortgage, to make auto loan payments on his F-150 truck and other vehicles, to install a home theatre system, for travel, shopping expenses, and other things, according to the press release.

During the sentencing, representatives for the Gragg family spoke in court about the detrimental impact of Clarks fraud on their company, and the personal and financial hardship they sustained as a result of the defendant's criminal conduct.

In a 2019 interview with the News-Topic, Gragg said that for years the family business was struggling, and the brothers were having to live off of their wives income to stay afloat.

The lawsuit filed by the Gragg family states that in mid-2016, Chad Gragg told Clark to close a Buffalo Creek Nurseries checking account with Capital Bank.

Gragg had opened a new business account with First Citizens bank after the business moved addresses.

Clark did not close the Capital Bank account, instead, he began telling some of Gragg's customers to mail checks to the old address where he picked them up, endorsed them for deposit, and deposited them into the account Gragg believed to be closed, the lawsuit said.

In June, Gragg told the News-Topic that he received a phone call from someone at Capital Bank in 2019, asking to speak to Clark, and said that his new checks were ready.

"I knew right then something was up," Gragg said, because the account was supposed to be closed.

Once Gragg requested the bank statement, it was revealed that Clark had written himself $30,000 in checks, forging Chad Graggs' signature.

Throughout the investigation, Clark was accused of having embezzled more than one $1 million from the Gragg family.

In the interview, Gragg said, "the money is one thing, but just the betrayal...that's the worst part, you know?"

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

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