Wade Lillywhite, who once testified against bomber/forger Mark Hofmann, took the witness stand himself Friday, confessing to a scheme to defraud Deseret Book out of thousands of dollars.
The former Deseret Book employee appeared before U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins, pleading guilty to two counts of fraud.Sentencing is scheduled for March 17. He faces a possible 10-year prison term and up to $500,000 in fines.
As part of a plea bargain, Lillywhite has agreed to pay full restitution.
However, government officials contend he owes hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lillywhite disagrees, asserting the amount is "considerably less that what Deseret Book contends."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Campbell told the judge that Lillywhite had gained the "friendship and trust" of Deseret Book managers and was therefore given authority over the Fine and Rare Book Department.
From 1984 to 1987, Lillywhite dealt with book dealers across the country.
"He kept books for his own use and substituted them with items of lesser value," said Campbell.
The prosecutor said that Lillywhite has indicated that he was under "financial pressure" at the time of the crimes.
Lillywhite set up charge accounts, ostensively to make purchases for Deseret Book, but they were actually for himself, she said.
Another deceptive method Lillywhite employed involved substituting valuable inventory items with items of lesser value, Campbell said.
Deseret Book lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of Lillywhite's fraudulent business practices. The Fine and Rare Book Department was closed partly as a result of the problems, said Campbell.
Lillywhite confessed to allegations of the charges, which include:
- Issuing checks from Deseret Book's account to pay personal debts.
- Purchasing items with Deseret Book's money and keeping them for himself.
- Selling items belonging to the company and keeping the money.
- Selling items to the company at an inflated prices.
- Stealing books from the store.
Lillywhite, who now resides in southern California, was a key witness during Hofmann's preliminary hearing in the spring of 1986. Lillywhite testified that he had purchased many historical items from Hofmann. Most of the items were later to be determined to be forged.