Sentencing set for trail-hiking embezzlement fugitive

CINCINNATI (AP) – A federal judge in southwest Ohio has scheduled sentencing for March 30 for a Kentucky accountant who spent much of six years as a fugitive hiking the Appalachian Trail.

James Hammes pleaded guilty in October to a wire fraud count and agreed to pay back money embezzled in an $8.7 million case.

Federal authorities agreed to drop 74 other counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Hammes, of Lexington, was charged with diverting millions from his employer, a Cincinnati-based Pepsi-Cola bottler.

U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott warned Hammes she could still impose the maximum sentence of 20 years, even though his deal with the government called for less time.

FBI agents arrested Hammes last May at an inn in Damascus, Virginia, during the annual Trail Days festival.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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