NEWARK, NJ --The former principal of a New Jersey vending company has admitted his role in a scheme that defrauded Pepsi Bottling Group of $2.9 million and agreed to pay restitution of $1 million to the company.
Joseph Belasco, 62, of Cedar Grove, NJ, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to charges that he conspired with two others to provide a false 2008 IRS 1099 form for consulting services that were never performed. One of the conspirators, Edwin Glasspool, 53, of Caldwell, previously pleaded guilty to defrauding Pepsi of $2.9 million and having his wife receive his annual share of the defrauded money through checks issued by the vending company.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Belasco and a business associate created Impact Cause Related Marketing in 1998 as a subsidiary of full-line vending company Culinary Ventures Vending. The purpose of Impact Marketing was allegedly to provide Pepsi Bottling with leads for acquiring new customers to purchase its packaged and fountain products. Impact Marketing and Belasco would receive commissions for as long as the client remained a Pepsi customer, along with quarterly rebates based on the amount of Pepsi product a customer purchased on an annual basis.
Glasspool, a Pepsi employee who developed new customers, assigned those customers to Impact Marketing. He also reassigned existing Pepsi customers to the list of new customers allegedly referred by Impact Marketing, generating additional commissions for leads for Belasco that he had not actually generated himself. Between 1998 and 2008, Impact Marketing reportedly received from Pepsi $2.9 million in commissions and rebates as a result of the scheme.
Glasspool and his wife, who filed joint tax returns, allegedly received as much as $200,000 in unlawful annual income from Belasco and Impact Marketing.
The conspiracy charge to which Belasco pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition to his guilty plea, Belasco agreed pay $1 million in restitution to PepsiCo. Sentencing is scheduled for February 25.