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POOL MANUFACTURER DEFRAUDED OF MILLIONS
Online Newsletter September 2009
Pool Manufacturer Defrauded of Millions
By John Miles, Pool & Spa News
Two men have been charged in a plot that scammed more than $3.4
million from a fiberglass pool manufacturer in Florida.
Joseph Hooker, formerly a bookkeeper for Blue Hawaiian Products,
has been indicted for mail fraud and multiple counts of income
tax evasion. His accomplice, Jack Shaw, has already pleaded
guilty to similar charges and faces up to 23 years in prison.
Shaw previously served 18 months for mail fraud in 1991.
“The two of them were able to set up an account at another bank,
[and Hooker] was the inside guy with all the invoices,” said
Roger Erdelac, president of the Largo, Fla.-based manufacturer.
“I’m not sure it’s the first company they did this with.”
Shaw and Hooker began defrauding Blue Hawaiian in 2001,
according to court documents. They executed a scheme where they
would deposit checks from dealers made out to Blue Hawaiian
Products into a commercial account under the name “Blue Hawaiian
Pools and Supplies.” Shaw then purchased cashier’s checks from
various banks and turned them over to Hooker, who gave them back
to his employer in smaller amounts with the original dealers
listed as the remitters on all the checks.
Hooker also is charged with doctoring the original dealer
invoices to reflect the lower amounts on the checks.
Hooker’s reputation around the office helped diffuse any
suspicions that might have come about during the five years he
was skimming off the company’s profits.
“[When] you’re sitting in the same room with someone you’ve
known for 10 years, you don’t question [whether he’s] stealing
from you,” Erdelac said. “We think we have all the checks and
balances in place, but when it’s an inside job, they can study
until they find a way.”
The plot was eventually discovered in 2006 by the company, but
the IRS and federal prosecutors took nearly three years to
research and build a case against the two men before charging
Meanwhile, Blue Hawaiian has weathered the storm, opening a new
plant in North Carolina in 2007 and maintaining its dealer base.
However, the scam has had an adverse effect on the company’s
staff, compromising additional wages, benefits and positions.
“My employees were close friends who were really harmed by this.
That’s the sad part,” Erdelac said. “Let’s hope [Hooker will]
pay for it dearly.”
Phone calls to Shaw’s attorney were not returned by press time.
The prosecuting attorney for the federal government also
declined comment for this story.
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