A Johnson County man has pleaded guilty to charges of misappropriating funds from the oil and gas company where he worked, according to documents filed in federal court.

A plea agreement filed by counsel for Franklin Fletcher, of Paintsville, admits that Fletcher “devised a scheme to defraud or obtain money or property by materially false or fraudulent pretenses,” and used someone else’s identification “during and in relation to a felony.”

According to the agreement, Fletcher worked for NYTIS Exploration, based in Lexington, as the accounting and gas sales manager, and, with that position, had access to the company’s accounting and check register systems. From September 2012 through March 2018, the plea agreement says, Fletcher generated checks that he would then deposit and use for personal purposes.

Fletcher allegedly used the system to manipulate the names and owners of gas and oil wells to that of his wife, produce a check in her name, and then change the information back to the original, correct names. In 2014, his methodology changed, having checks printed and signed with a signature stamp of NYTIS Exploration’s president. Fletcher then hid the theft by altering the printed checks in the system show the names of correct, legitimate payees.

The plea agreement names just one fraudulent check, in the amount of $7,787.09, in Fletcher’s wife’s name and deposited into his personal account but listed in the check register system as having been paid to EQT Energy. At no point, the plea agreement states, was Fletcher’s wife aware of the scheme or his alleged forgery to endorse the checks.

“In total, Fletcher embezzled $374,192.89 from NYTIS Exploration in this manner,” the plea said.

Fletcher faced more than 20 years total time in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. As part of his plea agreement in satisfying restitutions, Fletcher has agreed to liquidate a 401(k) account.

Fletcher was given conditional release pending his sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 23.

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