Ex-Sommet principals finalize plea agreements with feds

Pair involved in fraud scheme faces multi-year prison sentences

Two former Sommet Group executives pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, admitting their involvement in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme that garnered a federal investigation.

Marsha Whitfield pleaded guilty to wire fraud, and both she and her father, D. Edwin Todd, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The two both face up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for the conspiracy charge, while Whitfield faces an additional 20-year sentence and another $250,000 in fines on the wire fraud charge.

Todd co-founded Sommet Group, the  shuttered Franklin-based payroll processing company and former sponsor of what is now called Bridgestone Arena.

Whitfield served as vice president of the company’s payroll department, which claimed to distribute funds from clients’ gross payrolls to state and federal tax authorities, health insurance plans and employees’ paychecks.

From 2008 to 2010, the Sommet executives diverted up to $20 million for personal use and misleading clients who inquired as to their funds.

The IRS and FBI investigated the case, with  Whitfield, Todd and a third defendant, Sommet co-founder and CEO Brian Whitfield (Marsha Whitfield’s former husband), indicted in March 2012.

Brian Whitfield is currently living in Arizona, where he got in trouble late last year with federal pretrial services officers after he took on a new name and switched addresses without approval. Whitfield had to return to Nashville in March after the feds asked for his bond to be revoked.

Brian Whitfield is scheduled for trial in January 2014, while Marsha Whitfield and Todd are scheduled for sentencing in February.

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