ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two former executives at America Online were among six people charged Monday with fraud and making false statements to auditors as part of the federal government's ongoing investigation into illegal accounting practices at AOL.
The other four individuals charged were executives at a defunct Las Vegas-based software firm called PurchasePro (search). Prosecutors say the two companies entered into secret deals to help PurchasePro inflate its revenues in early 2001.
The 31-count indictment charges Kent Wakeford, 36, of New York City, former executive director at AOL's business affairs unit, and John Tuli, 37, of Weston, Mass., a former vice president in AOL's NetBusiness unit.
The PurchasePro executives charged are Charles "Junior" Johnson, 43, of Las Vegas, the former CEO; Christopher Benyo, 43, of Greer, S.C., a former senior vice president of marketing; Joseph Michael Kennedy, 51, of Morristown, N.J., a former chief technology officer, and Scott Wiegand, 36, a former general counsel.
U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty said the indictment "shows a story of trying to create an appearance of success in business when it just wasn't there."
The defendants face court appearances Tuesday.
Six senior executives of PurchasePro have previously entered guilty pleas.
AOL, the online unit of Time Warner Inc. (TWX), agreed last month to fully cooperate with the government's investigation. The government is deferring a criminal case against AOL's corporate parent while it conducts its investigation.