An In-N-Out Burger employee and a third-party vendor pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to defraud the fast-food chain of over $150,000 in a scheme they ran for more than 10 years, Orange County prosecutors said.
Kevin Anthony Koerner, a 45-year-old Lakewood resident, worked for the burger joint as a forklift mechanic, and his responsibilities included ordering parts from the company’s vendor, Industrial Material Handling Express (IMHE), the O.C. District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The owner of that company was Downey resident Louie Garcia, 48, officials said.
Over the course of more than nine years, beginning February 2005, Koerner would order IMHE products for personal use and pick them up directly from Garcia, according to prosecutors.
The pair would then submit fraudulent invoices to In-N-Out, acting as if they were business purchases or inflating the cost of parts the company had actually bought by 75 percent, the DA’s office said.
By July 2016, Koerner and Garcia had defrauded the burger chain of more than $150,000.
The scheme was uncovered by another IMHE employee, who reported what they found to In-N-Out management. The restaurant then contacted police in Irvine, where the company is headquartered.
On Thursday, both defendants pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft and 34 counts of forgery. They were also given sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and loss of more than $65,000.
Koerner was sentenced to one year in county jail, while Garcia was given nine months, prosecutors said.
Both men will also have to pay $340,000 restitution in full.