Pa. soft drink ex-CEO pleads guilty in fraud

By JOE MANDAK | June 20, 2011 | 3:00 PM EDT

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The former CEO of a defunct Pennsylvania soft drink company pleaded guilty to tax evasion, mail fraud and money laundering for using two sets of books to obtain $875 million in credit for the company.

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say the scheme orchestrated by 51-year-old Gregory Podlucky, of Ligonier, resulted in $628 million in losses to various lenders and equipment companies that did business with Latrobe-based Le-Nature's Inc.

Prosecutors say most of that money was poured into the failing business. But they say Podlucky also diverted more than $27 million to himself, which he spent on collectable toy trains, jewels and a mansion.

Under Monday's plea agreement Podlucky faces a likely 20-year prison sentence when he returns to court Oct. 20.

Podlucky and his attorney declined comment as they left the courtroom.