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Former Bernhardt exec gets 65 months in fraud case

STATESVILLE, N.C. — A former Bernhardt Furniture executive was sentenced to 65 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding the company of more than $563,000 over an eight-year period.

The U.S. attorney's office for western North Carolina said Andrew Geiger, 48, also was ordered to pay restitution to Bernhardt.

Geiger, a former Hickory, N.C., resident, was director of manufacturing for the company's contract case goods division from June 1996 to January 2008.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Geiger negotiated an agreement in December 1999 to have a Canadian company manufacture office furniture for Bernhardt and pay the company 34% of the product's list price.

Shortly after signing the agreement, however, Geiger created a sham company called Furniture Works International and, without Bernhardt's knowledge, had the Canadian manufacturer ship the goods to FWI for "repackaging."

Court records show Geiger falsely told the Canadian company that Bernhardt had authorized an increase in the payment to 39% of the list price, with the 5% difference being paid to FWI and eventually funneled to Geiger.

The scheme wasn't uncovered until Geiger left the company in early 2008 to take another furniture industry job, according to court records.

Geiger was indicted in November 2010 and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in March 2012.

He was ordered to pay restitution of $563,164, the U.S. attorney's office said.

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