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Ex-employee to plead guilty to embezzling $1.9 million from Outback's parent company

TAMPA — A former back-office employee of Outback Steakhouse's parent company has agreed to plead guilty to embezzling more than $1.9 million.

Owen R. Galvin faces up to 20 years in prison, according to a plea agreement filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

From mid 2009 to this spring, Galvin worked as director of fixed assets for Private Restaurant Partners LLC, a subsidiary real estate holding company of OSI Restaurant Partners.

Headquartered in Tampa, OSI is the parent to Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine.

In his job, Galvin could authorize invoices for payments of up to $200,000. Federal prosecutors charge that he and two co-workers conspired to set up shell companies, then submitted invoices to be paid, mostly for consulting services.

Owen and one colleague made 13 fraudulent wire transfers before the scheme was discovered. At one point, authorities say, they took a legitimate invoice from a real OSI vendor and altered it to match the name of one of their shell companies, which had a similar name.

Once they had the money, they wired funds between bank accounts they controlled and paid each other in cash or cashiers checks.

Another former employee, Jeremy David Schweickert, agreed in August to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud in the conspiracy. Schweickert participated in five of the 13 phony wire transfers and received a total of $212,368, according to his plea agreement. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 3 and also faces up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors have identified a third employee, Mark T. Watson, as a co-conspirator, but have not charged him, court records show.

Schweickert and Watson worked in the treasury department of OSI, where they handled journal entries and wire transfers, respectively, according to court records.

Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

Ex-employee to plead guilty to embezzling $1.9 million from Outback's parent company 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:53pm]
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