Indiana accountant arrested for embezzling, shoots himself

Sixty-four-year-old Robert "Mike" Symmes, a Pendleton, IN accountant who operated his practice, Robert M. Symmes & Co., out of Chesterfield, IN, shot himself in the chest after being release on bail from an arrest stemming from a charge of embezzling more than $350,000 from his clients.

Symmes was arrested last Wednesday and jailed in connection with felony charges of corrupt business influence, forger, and five counts of theft, the Anderson, IN-based Herald Bulletin reported. He was accused of not forwarding payroll and personal tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service. Symmes allegedly told his clients to give their tax payments to him and to rely on him to forward the payments to the IRS.

The Herald Bulletin reports that in at least one case, Symmes presented a forged letter from the IRS to a client stating that payments had been received and no debt was owing the IRS.

Symmes was facing potential jail terms of two to eight years in prison for each of two felony charges and six months to three years for each of the five theft charges.

Six hours after posting bail, Symmes shot himself in his office, and died soon thereafter, en route to the hospital.

At least two of his former clients have filed suit against Symmes's estate and his widowed wife for losses resulting from the embezzlement. The plaintiffs claim that Symmes used their money that was supposed to be paid to the IRS to purchase furniture, antiques, and inventory for his wife's formal gown business as well as using the money for travel.

“It’s been a heck of a mess, and it’s almost caused up to go into bankruptcy,” said Roy Buckner, former client and plaintiff in the suit against the Symmes estate. “It just cleaned us out. It’s just been a nightmare all the way around.”

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