Deseret Book Co. Inc. has filed suit against a former employee, Wade Lillywhite, a key witness in the forgery case against Mark W. Hofmann, accusing Lillywhite of defrauding the company out of more than $236,000.
The suit, filed in 3rd District Court, contends that Lillywhite set up phony charge accounts with the bookstore to acquire books for his personal collection and that he stole books from the store.Outlining the purported scam, the suit says, "The defendant sold his personal books in the name of his creditors to the plaintiff (Deseret Book) at an inflated price. The defendant would create a purchase order reflecting the sale of the books by his creditors to the plaintiff. The plaintiff would issue a check to the defendants' creditors who would accept the payments as repayment of the debts owed by the defendant."
Lillywhite was hired in March 1984 to work in the Fine and Rare Book Department. He was fired in August 1987 after Deseret Book employees interviewed Lillywhite concerning inventory losses. During his interview, the suit contends that Lillywhite admitted that he:
-Set up false charge accounts to acquire books for his personal inventory.
-Substituted books he owned with books of greater value he purchased for Deseret Book.
-Took books from the plaintiff's inventory and created new purchase orders for them.
-Took books from the Deseret Book inventory and failed to replace them.
In addition to the $236,308, Deseret Book is seeking court costs as damages.
During the investigation into the Hofmann forgeries, Lillywhite assisted police in identifying business transactions between Hofmann and Deseret Book.
Hofmann is serving a life term in the Utah State Prison after confess-ing to the Oct. 1985 bombing deaths of two persons and to multiple counts of fraud involving historical documents.