James Hammes was captured by the FBI after six years in hiding. The alleged white collar criminal was spotted hiking the Appalachian Trail. Hammes disappeared in 2009 after being accused of embezzling approximately $9 million from Pepsi.
Hammes is scheduled for to appear in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati for trial in October. The FBI most-wanted suspect was employed by Ohio-based PepsiCo before abandoning his wife and daughter and going into hiding. The suspected white collar criminal reportedly hid out along the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail until a fellow hiker recognized him from an old episode of the American Greed series on CNBC.
The FBI wanted fugitive was also known as “Bismark,” the Daily Mail reports. Hammes was reportedly a regular customer at Susie Montgomery’s bed and breakfast in a Virgina small town until the FBI caught up with him in May, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
“I’d say he was one of my favorite guests,” Montgomery said. “He was a smart man, interesting to talk to; a pleasant personality. All of the other people who stayed here liked him.”
On May 16, during the annual Trail Days festival, Susie answered a knock at the door and found three FBI agents on her porch. The agents held up an image of Hammes and asked if the man was staying at her lodging facility. The man she had known as Bismark for several years was soon escorted away in handcuffs.
“They allowed me to hug him,” Sue Montgomery added. “He whispered to me that he was sorry that this happened.”
The 53-year-old Kentucky native is now sitting in a southwest Ohio jail cell awaiting trial. He had pleaded not guilty. Court records may indicate that a plea deal is in the works. What happened to the $9 million Hammes allegedly stole from Pepsi remains unknown.
After the arrest, a multitude of Appalachian Trail hikers posted photos of themselves with Hammes on social media. The man known as Bismark was apparently considered to be very sociable and friendly by his fellow hikers. He allegedly sometimes told those he encountered that he owned a software company.
The hiker who turned Hammes in to the FBI had reportedly been along the trail with the suspect for seven months. When he returned home after his nature adventure, he saw the American Greed rerun about the G&J Pepsi-Cola embezzlement case.
During the Pepsi embezzlement investigator, FBI agents found that nearly $9 million was deposited into an unauthorized account that was worded similarly to a vendor’s name. James Hammes had opened the account in 1998, according to the federal agents.
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