Furniture exec charged with embezzlement

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

HOUSTON – An executive in Leggett and Platt’s Houston branch, MPI, faces a felony embezzlement charge for allegedly stealing gas for his personal vehicles.
Wayne Whitt, 61, of Houston, was arrested at his office on Aug. 13 by the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department and charged with one count of embezzlement, according to jail records. He was released the same day on a $25,000 bond.
Whitt had been the plant’s purchasing agent, said a woman who answered the company phone but didn’t identify herself. She said he no longer works there.
The company referred media questions to attorneys at the corporate headquarters in Carthage, Mo. A call for comment was not immediately returned.
It’s unclear how long Whitt allegedly had gassed up his personal vehicles on the company credit card or how much money was involved, said Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Terry Ward. Those details will emerge in the course of the ongoing investigation, he said.
“I feel like it will be in the thousands of dollars,” Ward said. “Of course, Leggett and Platt would like to have restitution for what they’ve lost.”
Officials at the local Leggett and Platt branch notified the Sheriff’s Department upon suspecting the alleged embezzlement. Investigators then were able to obtain proof at the gas stations that the credit card charges didn’t involve a corporate vehicle, Ward said.
The case likely will go before the grand jury in February.
Leggett and Platt manufactures furniture and bedding components, automotive seat supports, adjustable bed bases, carpet pads, steel wire and other materials. It has 130 manufacturing facilities, including the Houston plant, which makes carpet pads.
Last year, the company did $3.6 billion in sales worldwide.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com