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A former controller at a cable television company was convicted of fraud and other charges for her role in trying to bilk the Pentagon out of $8 million. A federal jury Wednesday convicted Alice Pirchesky of 72 counts in Americable International Inc.’s scheme to illegally take advantage of a military program intended to dampen the losses companies suffered when military bases closed in the 1990s, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami said. The company prepared $8 million in fake invoices in 1997 to cover its lost investment in cable operations at bases that closed, primarily in California and the Northeast. The work listed on the invoices was never performed and Americable’s operations never made any payments for the supposed work, prosecutors said. Pirchesky either personally entered the fake invoices into company records or told accounting workers to do so, prosecutors said. She also gave a government auditor the fake invoices. In a separate scam, the company undercounted its customer base by at least 23 percent when paying cable networks A&E, Discovery, ESPN, MTV and others for their programming, prosecutors said. Prosecutors charge about $8 million in illegal savings from the underreporting went to the then-head of the company, Charles C. Hermanowski. He disappeared two months before charges were filed in 2001, was arrested a year later in Australia and faces extradition. Rickey Hensley, the company’s former vice president of finance, has been sentenced to 31 months in prison for his role in the fraud. Americable, a family-owned company based in Miami, agreed last year to pay $22 million in fines, restitution and forfeiture as part of a plea bargain on two federal conspiracy counts. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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