An executive of an Ascension Parish-based chain of Popeyes chicken restaurants bought a $225,000 race car using some of the nearly $1 million he embezzled when he had store managers send him and his girlfriend bundles of cash taken from store registers as the company found itself in bankruptcy, a federal indictment alleges.
The indictment was unsealed Thursday against William “Wil” Ros, 45, of Cortez, Florida, the former chief financial officer of Fundamental Provisions LLC, a now-defunct Gonzales-based company that once operated 30 Popeyes franchises in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.
The indictment was issued Sept. 3, and Ros was arrested on the charges in St. Petersburg, Florida, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson.
Ros appeared before a federal magistrate judge who released him on personal recognizance, and he is scheduled to appear in Baton Rouge federal court Sept. 25, Amundson said.
Ralph Whalen, Ros’ attorney, declined to comment on the allegations.
In 2009, Fundamental Provisions was granted bankruptcy protection and was allowed to reorganize, prosecutors said. However, by March 2012, the company was unable to pay off the debts and was placed in involuntary bankruptcy with a trustee appointed to liquidate the company’s assets.
Throughout the process, Ros was kept on as the company’s chief financial officer, and beginning in August 2009, the indictment says, he directed a manager over restaurants in Alabama and Florida to remove money from the stores’ cash registers and either deliver the cash to him or send it via FedEx to him or his girlfriend or other people he might designate.
In March 2010, Ros directed a second manager over six Alabama restaurants to remove money from his stores’ cash registers and deposit it into bank accounts belonging to Ros, his girlfriend, his golf club supplier and a family friend, prosecutors said.
Ros would then instruct the bank to send the money via wire transfers to his girlfriend, according to the indictment, so she could renovate and furnish his Florida home, or to a person in California from whom he purchased the Ford GT race car.
He also is accused of having the store managers divert other restaurant funds and send the packages of cash directly to various people, including his girlfriend and the seller of the race car, prosecutors said.
Ros attempted to cover his tracks by having the restaurant managers create records of fictitious purchases, according to the indictment.
The indictment charged that Ros embezzled the money between August 2009 and May 2013, collecting $966,000 from Fundamental Provisions’ Alabama restaurants as the company worked its way through bankruptcy.
Advocate staff writer Maya Lau contributed to this report.