John Mathis "Matt" Lile III, the former president of Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Co. of Little Rock and owner of Lulav restaurant in Little Rock, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of embezzlement.
The indictment was announced late Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer; Randall C. Coleman, special agent in charge of the FBI's Little Rock field office; and Deborah Perry, acting regional director of the federal Labor Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration.
A press release from the agencies said Lile is accused of using his position with Cosmopolitan and his related position as chairman of Advanced Insurance Brokerage of America Inc. to charge more than $300,000 in personal expenses to a company credit card over a three-year period. The expenses were ultimately paid by Cosmopolitan and AIBA, which managed self-insured health care plans for small businesses around the state.
Cosmopolitan was taken into receivership by the Arkansas Insurance Department in 2009, and Lile surrendered his insurance license.
The press release didn't say when the embezzlement allegedly occurred, but similar allegations were made by Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford in a $2.5 million civil action that was filed, dismissed and then re-filed last June.
The lawsuit attributed $289,000 in charges to Lile's personal use, including "charges for personal expenses, such as playing golf, traveling to Las Vegas, and for restaurants and hotels."
Lile could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening at Lulav. The restaurant in downtown Little Rock reported food sales (excluding alcoholic beverages) of $443,358 in 2012, according to tax data from the Little Rock Advertising & Promotion Commission.
"When health care companies are victimized, the shockwaves extend far beyond office walls and negatively impact the lives and wellbeing of individual policy holders," Thyer said in the release. "Those who steal from trusting citizens for personal gratification will ultimately find there is a price to pay."
If convicted of these charges, Lile faces a statutory sentence of 10 years on each count.