URBANA -- The former manager of a Mattoon restaurant was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $160,000 in restitution for his conviction for conducting a fraud scheme against the business.
James M. Hill was sentenced to two years in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in the federal case accusing him of stealing from the Stadium Grill restaurant while employed there from 2007 to 2013.
Hill, 40, whose address on record at the time he was charged was on Krishire Drive in Charleston, will be required to repay nearly $169,000 to the restaurant at 102 Dettro Drive in Mattoon.
U.S. District Judge Colin Stirling Bruce allowed Hill to remain free on bond until Nov. 7 but then surrender himself to begin serving his prison sentence.
Hill pleaded guilty in April to fraud charges in a federal indictment that a grand jury returned in September of last year.
Before that, Hill was charged with similar offenses in Coles County at the state court level but that case was later dismissed in favor of the federal prosecution.
According to the federal indictment, Hill defrauded the restaurant by reporting sales for amounts less than what actually took place and keeping the money that made up the difference.
It also accused Hill of falsely reporting some sales as paid with gift cards and keeping the actual cash payments.
Specifically in reference to the wire fraud allegations, the indictment says Hill sent email reports containing the incorrect information to the restaurant's owners, twice in 2012 and twice 2013.
Records in the federal case say authorities estimated the actual loss to the restaurant at just more than $240,000 but the defense disputed that total. Hill denied taking gift cards or money from gift card sales, the records say.
The records also say Hill has a previous conviction for stealing from another employer before he worked at Stadium Grill.
In addition to considering information from a pre-sentence investigation, Bruce based the sentence on recommendations from Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Miller and defense attorney Kent Heller of Mattoon.
Several factors go into determining a sentence in a federal criminal case. The maximum possible prison sentence for the charges against Hill was 20 years.
According to police testimony during a hearing in the Coles County case, Hill was suspected of altering credit card records to cover the missing cash.
The investigation began after the corporate office for the company that operates the Stadium Grill contacted the restaurant about an unusually high number of credit card transactions there, according to the testimony.
It was then found that there were several credit card transaction adjustments that Hill handled, indicating he falsified the adjustments to hide the thefts, the police testimony indicated.