A Home Depot former manager identified by federal authorities investigating illegal kickbacks to executives of the company has pleaded guilty to fraud and tax charges.
Ronald K. Johnston, a former Home Depot global product merchant, entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of filing a false income tax return, U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias announced Thursday.
Johnston is the third Home Depot employee who has admitted to federal prosecutors that he participated in the kickback scheme. In return for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes that foreign suppliers channeled through another former Home Depot manager, Anthony Tesvich, Johnston conspired to defraud Home Depot by arranging to buy merchandise from certain suppliers at the expense of other, honest competitors and on terms that were not the most advantageous for Home Depot, according to federal prosecutors.
Those favored suppliers, in turn, secured millions of dollars in merchandise contracts from Home Depot between 2001 and 2005, according to federal civil forfeiture documents associated with the investigation.
Johnston also admitted that he failed to report or pay taxes on about $186,000 in illegal income generated by those bribes, Nahmias said. He could face a maximum sentence of 20 years on the conspiracy charge, a maximum of three years on each of the two tax charges and face as much as $250,000 in fines.
Johnston was represented by Warren C. Lietz III and Paul S. Kish of Kish & Lietz.