- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) - A former executive accused of stealing millions from the Cincinnati company behind dozens of Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Michael Hudson, who rose up from working in the kitchen to become the company’s third-ranking accountant, agreed to pay $3.9 million to Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. and nearly $1 million to the IRS, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer (https://cin.ci/1PbJdmE ).

Hudson pleaded guilty on Friday in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. Sentencing guidelines call for him to be sentenced to between three and five years in prison.

He forged payroll and accounting records to funnel money into personal accounts over seven years, the company said an internal investigation revealed. Hudson earlier denied all allegations of theft and fraud in court filings.

Hudson, who resigned a year ago, said little during the court hearing Friday. A message seeking comment was left at his attorney’s office on Saturday.

Hudson spent three decades working for Frisch’s, which owns 95 Big Boy restaurants in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

He used the money for gambling and also bought property, vehicles and jewelry, according to court documents filed in a civil lawsuit. The company’s former chief executive previously said he was told Hudson gambled away much of the money.

Frisch’s said earlier this year that it was adding more checks and balances to its accounting systems to help prevent fraud.

The company said the total amount stolen was enough to reduce company profits by about 5 percent over the seven years, the Enquirer reported.

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, https://www.enquirer.com

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