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Man accused of defrauding printing company of more than $400,000

Crime Watch

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Jon Whitney | Bonneville County Jail

IDAHO FALLS — The former general manager of Falls Printing is being accused of defrauding the company of more than $400,000.

Jon Whitney, 47, worked for 18 years at Falls Printing, owned by Harris Publishing, until he was fired in January 2019. Company owners say Whitney embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout his time there. But Whitney says the Harris brothers didn’t pay him what they agreed to pay when they hired him and are now slandering him.

Whitney was arrested on Feb. 5. He is facing two felony charges of grand theft.

“His greed nearly destroyed our business,” Harris Publishing co-owner Jason Harris told EastIdahoNews.com.

Whitney has denied any wrongdoing. He reportedly told detectives that he had permission to do what he did.

“In response to the charges of grand theft by Falls Printing, I am innocent. I’ve sued them civilly over our business dealings and this is their retaliation. This is a civil matter and there is no criminal aspect to it. Thanks,” Whitney told EastIdahoNews.com in a written statement.

Two of the three Harris brothers, Jason and Ryan, told detectives Whitney embezzled more than $400,000 from the company in four different ways, according to court documents.

Whitney allegedly traded publishing services for in-store credit at motorsports, clothing and gun stores and other local businesses without permission or knowledge of the Harrises. The owners believe Whitney gave more than $245,000 in unauthorized trade to various clients, trade that he allegedly used for himself.

Whitney argued the owners were aware of the trades and had given permission to make the trades as part of his compensation, according to documents.

The brothers also say Whitney was running a competing printing business out of Harris Publishing, using the company’s equipment, materials and employees without permission. The owners estimate Whitney cost the company more than $100,000 by doing this.

Whitney told detectives that he had indeed started a target printing business, Freedom Gun Targets, and had been given permission to use a small amount of low-quality paper to print the targets.

He said Jason Harris hadn’t asked him to reimburse the company because “it would be petty given the number of hours he had worked and the amount of business expense he had covered,” Whitney said, according to documents.

However, the employees that detectives interviewed said Whitney had them frequently print targets. One said that there was a storeroom filled with boxes of targets.

The Harris brothers told detectives Whitney used his company gas card for personal use. They allege Whitney cost the company around $30,000 in gas.

Whitney told detectives that he had permission to use the gas card for his personal vehicles.

Finally, Whitney allegedly took the aluminum lithograph plates from one of the Harris Publishing printing locations and sold them to be recycled and pocketed the cash, according to documents.

The Harris brothers estimated Whitney had gotten more than $40,000 over 11 years from recycling the used lithograph plates, money that should have gone back to the company if Whitney hadn’t allegedly kept the money.

Whitney again said that he had been given permission to sell the plates.

Whitney told detectives the accusations against him came only after a deal between him and the Harris brothers to purchase the business fell through, and he was fired.

He claimed the brothers had told him the company was not profitable and that was why he wasn’t being paid the bonuses the brothers allegedly agreed to pay him when he was hired in 2001.

He said the Harris brothers are retaliating against him for making plans to start his own publishing business by slandering him to potential clients.

The Harris brothers and Whitney engaged in civil lawsuits against each other before Whitney’s arrest. The lawsuits are still being litigated.

“He hurt us financially, but it’s more than that. Jon was a lifelong family friend who we hired and entrusted to manage our printing business,” Jason Harris said. “He completely took advantage of his position and his employees to take care of himself.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26.

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