After a long and largely successful career in the tech industry, the former CEO of Baton Rouge software company Thinkstream was arrested Monday and accused of using money from employees' retirement funds to cover his personal expenses and debts.
Both former Thinkstream CEO Barry Bellue Sr., 75, and former CFO Morris Alexander, 50, were recently arrested with Alexander accused of helping Bellue divert funds from the 401(k) account into the company general fund and deceiving both company employees and federal investigators about his actions, according to Bellue's arrest warrant filed by state Department of Justice investigators.
The company repaid some of the missing retirement funds in recent years before declaring bankruptcy in 2015, leaving almost $100,000 unpaid.
Thinkstream provided software that tied together law enforcement databases in several states and operated the Louisiana Civil and Criminal Information Network, which included close to 300 law enforcement agencies, district attorneys and courts.
Between 2003 and 2015, Bellue authorized multiple transfers totaling more than $1.3 million from Thinkstream accounts into the corporate accounts of his private aviation company BLB Aviation, which he owned with his son, according to his arrest warrant. Over half that total covered overdraft fees for the aviation company.
Investigators found that Bellue used about $1.5 million from Thinkstream's accounts to pay off his personal credit cards during the same time period, including roughly $168,000 for "numerous meals at various high end restaurants." Bellue argued those funds were used to pay business expenses, which included travel and entertainment, according to the warrant.
Investigators also found that Bellue transferred Thinkstream funds to an account associated with a ranch he owned in Mississippi: more than $200,000 that he said covered Thinkstream business expenses.
Authorities allege Bellue illegally withheld information about his personal debts and affiliation to BLB Aviation from U.S. Department of Labor officials. Alexander also concealed Thinkstream's affiliation to BLB Aviation in a 2014 affidavit, according to the warrant.
The U.S. Department of Labor sued Thinkstream and Bellue for mismanagement of funds and a federal judge in 2014 ordered the company and its owner to repay roughly $127,000 to the retirement plan from which Bellue had removed money starting more than 10 years earlier.
Bellue did not return the money, arguing the company was unable to make the payments and leaving almost $100,000 outstanding. Instead investigators found that Bellue and Alexander ignored the judge's order and "furthered the scheme through additional misappropriation of employees' retirement contributions" by withholding an additional roughly $48,120 from wages that were not placed into the pension plan between July 2014 and July 2015.
Thinkstream declared bankruptcy in July 2015 and was then removed from Bellue's control and placed under the management of a bankruptcy trustee.
Investigators said Alexander admitted to helping Bellue divert retirement funds but claimed the money was used for "payroll and rent." He said he and Bellue agreed full restitution should be made to the affected employees but that Thinkstream didn't have enough money to return the funds.
According to the arrest warrant, Bellue received an average annual salary of about $308,000 during the time the alleged mismanagement of funds was taking place and Alexander received about $110,000 per year. They were not among the affected participants in the mismanaged 401(k) retirement plan.
Bellue founded Thinkstream in 1997. The company was sold at auction in 2016 to a limited liability corporation called Thinkstream Acquisition LLC, which includes the company's largest debtor and other investors. The new company was then rebranded as Kologik.
A U.S. Bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of Thinkstream, a Baton Rouge firm whose software allows law enforcement agencies to share infor…
Bellue, of of 4847 Donegal Road, Woodville, Mississippi, was booked Monday into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on two counts each of theft by fraud and criminal conspiracy and was released the same day on $2,000 bond, according to online prison records. Alexander, of 7676 Enterprise Drive, Denham Springs, was booked Friday into Parish Prison on fraud and criminal conspiracy counts and was released the same day on $20,000 bond, prison records show.
Bellue and Alexander did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.