James Hammes abandoned his family six years ago after he was suspected of embezzling $9 million from a Pepsi-Cola bottler in Ohio. Hammes disappeared in 2009, leaving behind his wife and daughter. However, thanks to a rerun of the CNBC series American Greed, which featured the story of Hammes along with a photo, the runaway white-collar worker has been found hiding on the Appalachian Trail. In fact, it was uncovered that the man has been living along the trail for the past six years and was well known by hikers as “Bismarck.”
The Daily Mail reports that fugitive James Hammes, accused of embezzling nearly $9 million from G&J Pepsi-Cola bottlers, was arrested along the Appalachian Trail. A tip about Hammes’ whereabouts came in from a hiker who recognized the man from the show American Greed.
According to the reports, Hammes had been living along the Appalachian Trail for the past six years. He left behind his wife and daughter and never contacted family following his mysterious disappearance. Hammes went by the name “Bismarck” along the trail and was known by hikers in the area. He was frequently seen along the trail, but no one knew his true identify until the unnamed hiker recognized his face from the wanted poster in the American Greed rerun.
Susie Montgomery, who owns a small bed and breakfast near the trail in Virginia, says that Hammes was a frequent customer and one of her favorites. She had no idea he was a fugitive on the run from police. Though police have not said how long Hammes had hiked the trail, hikers in the area note he has been spotted along the trail for some time.
A trail guide and author of books about the Appalachian Trail from Florida, David Miller says that Hammes has been hiding in plain sight this entire time as he was well-known along the trail by frequent hikers. In fact, Miller says that Hammes, who he knew as Bismarck, was so knowledgeable about the trail that he would send him updates for his book.
Police are also not releasing any information on what they believe happened to the nearly $9 million that James Hammes is suspected of embezzling from the Pepsi-Cola bottler. It was noted that in 2009, prior to the investigation, Hammes worked as a controller at the company. Once the investigation into the missing money began, Hammes fled and was not found until this week.
Hammes’ wife filed for divorce after his disappearance and has not made a public statement about his arrest. Current charges pending against Hammes include fraud and money laundering.
[Image Credit: FBI]