Jeffrey Barnhill, the founder and former president and director of the now-bankrupt Joy Athletic apparel company, has been indicted for fraud. Barnhill and other defendants allegedly falsified financial statements, created false invoices and checks, used nonexistent companies and engaged in other schemes to create the appearance that millions of dollars in false accounts receivable were real.
The case goes back to the collapse of Joys factor, E.S. Bankest, and the eventual bankruptcy of the licensed apparel company that started as a screen print operation in Hialeah, FL.
Barnhill is being charged along with eight other individuals for conspiring to carry out a $170 million bank and wire fraud scheme. The charges against Barnhill include conspiracy and multiple counts of bank fraud which carry maximum penalties of 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.
According to the indictment, the nine defendants conspired to inflate the value of collateral used to obtain loans through Espirito Santo Bank of Florida.
According to a South Florida newspaper report, the government alleges that in 1997, Jeff Barnhill provided a letter to Bankest's auditor confirming it had sold $10.6 million in accounts receivable to Bankest. The letter was ''to justify over-advances to Joy,'' according to the indictment. The ''over-advances'' to Joy mounted to $11.8 million by 1998.
''This case is one of the largest bank and corporate fraud cases ever prosecuted in South Florida,'' said Marcos Jiménez, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.