Fast bucks on fast food

Fast food may be cheap, but the money adds up: Two men have recently pleaded guilty to scamming large amounts of money from businesses selling burgers and snacks.

Benjamin James Lonic, 27, of Horseshoe, was accused of skimming more than $200,000 through Info Trap, a company providing payroll services to other companies.

In Buncombe County Superior Court, Lonic pleaded guilty to five counts of forgery and five counts of embezzlement from Checkers franchises in Asheville, Raleigh and Alabama, as well as from C&L Imaging.

He was sentenced to a minimum of 40 months in prison, up to a maximum 50 months. After his release, he is required to spend 40 to 50 months on probation, according to Assistant District Attorney Frank Patton III.

“As embezzlement sentences go, it’s about as big as you’ll see,” Patton said last week.

Also pleading guilty was James Robert Looper, 46, who has lived in Fairview. Looper was accused of stealing more than $100,000 from SBC of Asheville Mall, the company that operates the mall’s Baskin-Robbins.

He had been charged with 20 counts of embezzlement and five counts of corporate malfeasance.

Looper’s sentencing is postponed while he participates in civil negotiations with the company, Patton said. Any civil settlement would affect the criminal restitution, the attorney explained.

— B.F.

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