Taking into consideration the many letters he’s received telling of Daniel Pikel’s good deeds on behalf of others and his work as a volunteer firefighter and fire chief, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence McVerry yesterday told Pikel, “You sure as heck shouldn’t be here.” Then he sentenced Pikel to 27 months in federal prison and three years of probation, plus $2.9 million in restitution to Falcon Drilling Company for an embezzlement scheme.
Pikel told the judge, “All I can say is I’m sorry.” In a plea bargain in June, Pikel admitted that his auto repair business in Home had total income of $2.9 million at a time when it legitimately had only $246,000 in income. His Universal Auto Repair and a fictitious business, Universal Bit Service, invoiced Falcon Drilling for drill bits that were never delivered, and former Falcon chief operating officer Larry Winckler forged checks made out to the companies. Pikel passed the money to Winckler in potato chip bags and got what he said was “a couple of thousand here, a couple of thousand there” in return.
Winckler has not yet been indicted as a grand jury continues the investigation into what Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Melucci says was a $10 million embezzlement scheme. In January, former Falcon controller Cheryl Brooks pleaded guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns.