CHICAGO (CN) - A former General Motors executive pleaded guilty to wire fraud Thursday after an 18-month excursion from a Caribbean hideout to Lichtenstein, where he was arrested. Daniel Bealko, 62, was indicted in March 2008 for a kickback scheme that cost GM more than $83 million, federal prosecutors said.
Bealko, 62, was GM's Global Commodity Manager from 1996 to 2003, entrusted with authority to lighten the company of "several hundred million pounds of bulk aluminum" it had acquired.
Bealko made a deal with metals broker Anthony Demetrius Brown of Fuci Metals USA, to have him sell the aluminum for a small profit in return for $6.5 million in kickbacks, officials said. Bealko did not pay federal income taxes on the kickbacks.
Bealko admitted he told Brown that GM did not pay him enough and that his health coverage was not sufficient for the medical care of a family member, according to the plea agreement.
Brown did not fully reimburse GM for the metals he sold through his company and spent the money on himself, including his sports and entertainment business ventures.
When Fuci came up insolvent, the outstanding debt to GM was more than $83 million, according to affidavits in the criminal complaint. Bealko told the court that the total bulk aluminum sales were around $1 billion.
Bealko and Brown were indicted in March 2008; Bealko was thought to be staying in the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Bealko was later arrested in Liechtenstein. He is believed to have at least $3.3 million in a bank account there, and accounts in Switzerland and the Caribbean. Plans to extradite him were halted when he agreed to return to the United States.
Brown pleaded guilty to fraud in October 2008 and is awaiting sentence.
Bealko will be sentenced on Jan. 19, 2010. He faces up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud or twice the gain or loss for the crime, up to 5 years and a $250,000 fine for tax evasion, and restitution.
Due in part to his lack of criminal history, the plea agreement anticipates that Bealko be sentenced to 70 to 87 months in prison.