A Herrin man has been sentenced to a mix of prison and home confinement after previously pleading guilty to defrauding the federal government.
According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft, Shawn E. Whitecotton, 50, of Herrin, was sentenced Thursday to 16 months confinement consisting of 8 months in federal prison and 8 months of home confinement after his release.
Whitecotton pleaded guilty in December to two counts of making materially false statements related to reporting his income on government forms.
As part of his guilty plea, Whitecotton admitted to concealing from the federal government thousands of dollars he received from a government contractor, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The release states Whitecotton was the factory manager of the UNICOR manufacturing facility operating within the federal penitentiary in Marion. In 2014, the prison's UNICOR facility contracted with a private company, PGB Hangers LLC, to manufacture wire clothing hangers.
As the UNICOR factory manager, Whitecotton was responsible for overseeing the contract and that after work began, Whitecotton convinced PGB to hire him as a salesperson.
He created a new entity — TRCB LLC — to engage in his side job and subsequently received over $20,000 in payments from PGB, according to the U.S. attorney.
As a supervisory employee in the executive branch of the United States, Whitecotton was required to annually report his financial interests, any outside employment activities, and any positions held outside his role at the prison, according to the release.
The purpose of this requirement is to uncover any possible conflicts of interest a supervisory employee may have in the performance of his or her duties, according to the release. The forms require disclosure of any sources of income over $200.
In court documents, Whitecotton admitted that he knowingly and willfully failed to disclose his work for PGB and the payments he received as outside income, the release states.
Whitecotton also admitted that when it appeared his unlawful conduct would be discovered, he took steps to suppress or interfere with investigators’ discovery of the truth, including by unlawfully instructing a witness to lie about Whitecotton’s involvement with TRCB and receipt of payments from PGB.
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