HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A former Huntsville executive has been charged with wire fraud.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama and the FBI have charged Steve Ray Shickles, Jr., 43, infiltrated PayPal accounts associated with Simple Helix, an IT services provider in Huntsville.
The U.S. District Attorney’s Office alleges that during his tenure as Chief Operating Officer of the company, between Jan. 2012 and Jan. 2019, he fraudulently charged, transferred, and withdrew more than $2.1 million from these accounts. In addition, allegations state that Shickles created a fraudulent email account for the company, causing funds for the company to be deposited into Shickles’s personal accounts. These fraudulent transactions were concealed by fraudulent computer-general financial reports, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
If convicted, Shickles could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
After Shickles resigned in January 2019, Simple Helix sued him over the fraudulent charges. Shickles and his wife Ronda filed for bankruptcy on January 17, 2019.
That lawsuit stated he leased warehouses and stored equipment and items he bought with the company’s money. The warehouse contained an SUV Shickles allegedly bought in the company’s name, as well as a new BMW 238i, a motor home, four Segway scooters, high-end computer equipment, driving simulators and other electronics, according to the suit.
In February 2019, Shickles’ attorney filed a response explaining his side to the story – saying Simple Helix’s finances were mismanaged and he made charges on his personal credit card in order to operate the company. He is asking the court to order the repayment of tens of thousands of dollars.
In July 2019, Shickles entered into another LLC with someone else. Huntsville Police said the business partner at that time looked into the bank account for the LLC, noticing Shickles took out an unauthorized amount of money from that account. HPD arrested Shickles on July 18, 2019 for theft of property charges stemming from the second LLC.
Simple Helix released the following statement to News 19 on Friday afternoon:
Simple Helix applauds the U.S. District Attorney’s Office and FBI’s pursuit of justice in this matter. A criminal conviction would be a significant step toward closure for many of the individuals victimized by Mr. Shickles’ actions.
In its civil case against Steve and Ronda Shickles, Simple Helix obtained a $13 million consent judgment against Steve and a $6.5 million consent judgment against Ronda Shickles.
Unfortunately, because Mr. Shickles has repeatedly failed to comply with both the orders of a bankruptcy court and the agreement he entered into as part of the resolution of his bankruptcy case, Simple Helix has only recovered a small fraction of the money it is owed.
While counsel for Simple Helix continues to pursue recovery of those judgements, the company has moved on from this matter under new leadership and continues to grow through managed IT services, providing ultrafast and low latency connectivity, and operating a state-of-the-art TIER 3 data center in Huntsville, Ala.Simple Helix