The former general manger of Falls Printing has been arrested after he reportedly stole and misused the company’s resources for a combined value of $400,000.
The allegations against Jonathon Whitney, 47, include that he was skimming money off of sales, misusing a company credit card, stealing and recycling printing plates for their aluminum and pocketing the cash, and running his own printing business using Falls Printing’s resources.
The report was filed April 5, a month after Whitney filed a lawsuit claiming the company’s owners had committed fraud against him and lied to him about their profits.
Idaho Falls Police Department detectives interviewed Jason Harris, the owner of Falls Printing in April. Whitney had worked for the company for nearly two decades, starting in 2001 until he was fired in January 2019.
The majority of the money lost reportedly came from Whitney offering businesses discounts for Falls Printing’s services in exchange for store credit. Harris said he was unaware of the discounts, and that Whitney would keep the store credit for his personal use. The companies that were offered discounts included Action Motor Sports, Klim, The Gun Shop, Guns & Gear, Gas & Grub and Hilam Orthodontics.
A Klim representative told police Whitney would request payment in store credit, telling him the items bought were for himself and other employees. Police estimated Whitney took $245,000 worth of store credit at various retailers while working for Falls Printing.
According to the probable cause affidavit, money from the lithograph plates Whitney stole and recycled was supposed to be invested back in the company.
Whitney reportedly took plates in his own car for recycling and did not give the checks to the company, pocketing an estimated $40,000 over the course of 11 years.
Denise O’Neal, bookkeeper for Falls Printing, told police she had found discrepancies in the bills for the company’s gas credit card. The bill showed the credit card, meant to cover gas expenses for employee travel, was used in towns Falls Printing did not make deliveries to, and in higher amounts than were typical of what was required for travel.
Police estimated Whitney embezzled approximately $30,000 with the gas card.
Whitney reportedly owned two printing companies, Freedom Gun Targets and Western Graphic Consulting. According to the probable cause affidavit, Whitney used Falls Printing’s employees and resources to print items for his own companies, then kept the revenue for himself.
The bookkeeper confirmed to police there was never a business arrangement between Falls Printing and Freedom Gun Targets, according to the affidavit. She told police Whitney had workers print the targets, but that he had not filled out job tickets.
O’Neal received a call in January 2019 from an employee at The Gun Shop asking who to make the check out to for targets they ordered. The bookkeeper said she told the employee Falls Printing had not sent the targets. The employee said she had an invoice from Whitney. The printing jobs by Whitney reportedly cost Falls Printing $100,000 in lost revenue.
Falls Printing estimated the costs of the lost revenue with a forensic audit and provided police with records of the various transactions. Harris told detectives he confronted Whitney with the evidence of the fraud, and that Whitney denied the accusations.
When questioned by police, Whitney denied the reports of fraud and accused Falls Printing of attempting to defraud him and slander his reputation. He said he had an agreement with Harris Publishing to receive 1% of gross sales and 5% of profits, but that they stopped paying him those benefits in 2015 because they said the company wasn’t profitable. Whitney told police he later learned the company was profitable.
Whitney claimed Harris approved the decision to receive trade credit in some business deals. He said Jason Harris gave him permission to make the gun targets for his company and did not want reimbursement. He said the fuel card use was meant as compensation for deliveries he made to Utah.
Whitney said he had been negotiating to buy Falls Printing, and claimed he was fired and slandered when they didn’t reach an agreement. He claimed Harris falsified financial records to inflate the price of the company.
According to Whitney’s lawsuit, Harris Publishing originally wanted $3.2 million for Falls Printing but lowered the offer to $1.2 million when Whitney discovered the company’s financial condition.
The lawsuit claims that Whitney confronted Jason Harris about the company’s price and profitability, and that he admitted to lying about how profitable Falls Printing was and how much the company was worth. The lawsuit also claims Harris threatened to fire Whitney if he did not purchase Falls Printing.
Whitney is accusing Harris, O’Neal and Harris Publishing of defamation for emails reportedly sent in February about the false transactions Whitney was accused of making in the criminal case. The emails asked several companies to preserve their records of transactions with Whitney.
Harris and the other defendants, including Ryan Harris, Chuck Harris and O’Neal denied Whitney’s accusations in their response to the lawsuit. The response states the claim that Harris Publishing falsified records of profits and inflated the value of Falls Publishing are not true and denies that Harris admitted anything to Whitney.
Jason Harris told the Post Register that Whitney never complained about not receiving the 5% of profits when he worked at Falls Printing and said he believes the suit was retaliation for firing him. He said that there were talks with Whitney about him buying Falls Printing, but that Whitney was fired for stealing, not for refusing to buy the company.
“We pulled out and terminated him. It was as simple as that,” Harris said.
Whitney was charged with two counts of grand theft, both punishable with up to 14 years in prison. He was released to pretrial supervision. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Bonneville County Courthouse.
A jury trial in the civil case is scheduled for July 28 before District Judge Dane Watkins Jr.