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Guilty plea in Home Depot kickback case

Anthony Tesvich, a purported middleman in a scheme that allegedly saw two Home Depot flooring buyers take millions in bribes from foreign suppliers, will plead guilty to three counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Tesvich’s attorney, Brian Steel, told the newspaper he would make the plea as early as today.

Tesvich was a 19-year employee with Home Depot, where he formerly worked as a product development merchant. Prosecutors allege that Tesvich collected more than $10 million from foreign suppliers from 2002 to 2005 and deposited the money into bank accounts that he controlled.

Tesvich faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison and a minimum fine of $250,000 for the charges.

The civil complaint, filed December 2007, alleges mail and wire fraud and attempted money laundering. Former buyer James Robinson is accused of having used bribe money to purchase two pieces of property near Nashville, Tenn., both of which are in forfeiture proceedings. On Dec. 21, Robinson voluntarily turned over $146,000 in cash to federal agents in the presence of his lawyer, court papers state.

Ronald Johnston, formerly a global product manager since April 2005, is accused of having received cash payments, a 2004 Cadillac Escalade, a fully equipped fitness room, a home theater installation, a refinished basement and $8,276 worth of high-end kitchen appliances in bribes.