Another ex-Foothills airport official pleads guilty

Hullette admits embezzlement, witness tampering
Aug. 21, 2013 @ 06:03 PM

A third former Foothills Regional Airport official pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges of embezzling from the airport.

Court records said Randy Hullette, a former member of the airport's board of directors, embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from the airport; tried to persuade someone, called only "Mr. F" in court documents but identified by Hullette’s attorney as Hullette’s first cousin, to mislead the FBI as it investigated wrongdoing at the airport; and that on Sept. 20, 2012, Hullette lied to a grand jury about financial transactions and whether he had received money or attempted to influence anyone. Hullette pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Asheville to one federal count of embezzlement and one count of witness tampering.

Alex Nelson, former administrator of the airport, and Brad Adkins, former operations manager both entered guilty pleas to charges of embezzlement in September 2012. Nelson also pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Sentencing hearings for Hullette, Nelson and Adkins have not been scheduled.

Hullette was released on a $25,000 bond and could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for embezzlement, and 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for witness tampering.

The conditions of Hullette’s plea agreement state that he must have no contact with any current or potential witnesses, including Nelson and “Mr. F.” 

Investigators say that starting about June 2009, the bill of information states, Nelson embezzled more than $130,000 from the airport and its customers, including making out airport checks to entities controlled by associates for kickbacks.

At the same time, the bill states, Hullette had Nelson issue checks from the airport to Burkemont Service Center, which Hullette owned, for invoices that were grossly inflated and for work that either was never done or had been paid for years earlier.

Hullette also had Mr. F, who was employed by Hullette at the service center, open a bank account in the name of Mobile Fleet Service, and got Nelson to issue checks to that account for services supposedly provided by the airport. Then Hullette made Mr. F cash the checks and provide Hullette with that cash, sometimes paying Mr. F for work actually performed.