HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A former Huntsville executive has been charged with wire fraud.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama and the FBI have charged Steve Ray Shickles, Jr., 43, infiltrated PayPal accounts associated with Simple Helix, an IT services provider in Huntsville.
The U.S. District Attorney’s Office alleges that during his tenure as Chief Operating Officer of the company, between Jan. 2012 and Jan. 2019, he fraudulently charged, transferred, and withdrew more than $2.1 million from these accounts. In addition, allegations state that Shackles created a fraudulent email account for the company, causing funds for the company to be deposited into Shackles’s personal accounts. These fraudulent transactions were concealed by fraudulent computer-general financial reports, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
If convicted, Shackles could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
After Shackles resigned in January 2019, Simple Helix sued him over the fraudulent charges. Shickles and his wife Ronda filed for bankruptcy on January 17, 2019.
That lawsuit stated he leased warehouses and stored equipment and items he bought with the company’s money. The warehouse contained an SUV Shickles allegedly bought in the company’s name, as well as a new BMW 238i, a motor home, four Segway scooters, high-end computer equipment, driving simulators and other electronics, according to the suit.
In February 2019, Shickles’ attorney filed a response explaining his side to the story – saying Simple Helix’s finances were mismanaged and he made charges on his personal credit card in order to operate the company. He is asking the court to order the repayment of tens of thousands of dollars.
In July 2019, Shickles entered into another LLC with someone else. Huntsville Police said the business partner at that time looked into the bank account for the LLC, noticing Shickles took out an unauthorized amount of money from that account. HPD arrested Shickles on July 18, 2019 for theft of property charges stemming from the second LLC.
News 19 has reached out to Simple Helix for additional information. We’ll update this story when we know more.