Sommet Group founder guilty in $20 million fraud

NASHVILLE (AP) – The head of the now-defunct Sommet Group, which formerly held the naming rights to the Bridgestone Arena, has been found guilty of stealing from clients.

The Tennessean reports a federal jury on Friday found Brian Whitfield guilty on 14 of 15 counts related to the $20 million scheme.

The Sommet Group handled payroll, benefits and other back-office functions for businesses. An indictment said Whitfield used money for his personal benefit that was supposed to pay federal taxes, fund 401 K plans and pay medical and prescription drug benefits of employees for Sommet Group’s clients.

Whitfield had maintained his innocence. In testimony at trial he blamed his clients’ losses on a series of bad business decisions and mismanagement by other executives.

He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 26.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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