Risk & Compliance

”Cable Guy” Sentenced to Nine Years

Free HBO is kids' stuff; former cable-television chief allegedly diverted about $50 million for his personal use.
Stephen Taub and Dave CookMarch 6, 2007

Charles C. Hermanowski, once the co-owner of Americable International, was sentenced in a Miami courtroom to nine years in prison and fined $4 million for a scheme to divert about $50 million for his personal use, reported the Associated Press.

U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz credited Hermanowski, 73, for five years already served in Australia and Miami; prosecutors had sought the maximum of 12 years and seven months in prison plus a $25.5 million fine, added the AP.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, during the mid-1990s Hermanowski and his wife co-owned Americable and a series of affiliates, which provided cable television service to various U.S. military installations, as well as civilian customers. The U.S. Attorney alleged that Hermanowski oversaw a wide-ranging scheme to create scores of false accounting and financial documents and direct company employees to write checks to “pay” these false expenditures.

In December 2000, Hermanowski fled the United States and began living under an alias, according to prosecutors. In January 2002, he was apprehended by the Australian Federal Police in Sydney, and after a four-year legal battle, he was extradited to the United States last June.

In December, Hermanowski pled guilty to two counts of tax evasion, 14 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, 10 counts of submitting false claims to the Department of Defense, one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud against cable television networks, and 12 counts of mail fraud through defrauding cable television networks.

Two former Americable finance executives were previously sentenced for their roles in the scheme.

In December 2002, former treasurer and director of finance Rick Hensley pleaded guilty to two criminal counts. Hensley, who cooperated with authorities and testified as a government witness in the trial of former comptroller Alice Pirchesky, has completed his 15-month prison sentence.

Pirchesky was ultimately convicted on multiple counts, and in May 2005, Judge Seitz sentenced her to 78 months in prison.