SHREVEPORT, LA. — Two former employees of Raeford Farms LLC were sentenced to prison and restitution payments on fraud charges, according to the US Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Louisiana.

William Hickman, 49, former Raeford Farms sales manager, and Brian Whiteman, 48, former Raeford Farms assistant sales manager, were found guilty of fraudulently diverting $2-million-worth of business from Raeford Farms.

US District Judge Elizabeth Foote sentenced Hickman to 52 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $2,693,221 in restitution.

Whiteman was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $2,183,949 in restitution.

An investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation dated the scheme to before 2018.

According to the attorney’s office, Hickman and Whiteman conspired together during their employment at Raeford Farm’s Acradia, La., plant. Hickman would use Group 7792 as an intermediary to purchase chicken frames from Raeford and then provide favorable sales terms to other entities, including Heritage Food, a company Hickman controlled.

Heritage paid Group 7792 a guaranteed return for each transaction but never took possession of the chicken frames or added anything of value to the transaction, the attorney’s office said. Then, the chicken frames would be sold to a poultry wholesaler in Chattanooga, Tenn., for profit.

Hickman received support in the fraud from others, including Whiteman, who helped conceal the involvement of Heritage from Raeford Farms.

In his role at Raeford Farms, Whiteman was responsible for tracking inventory and details of all shipments. The attorney’s office said he used his knowledge to further defraud Raeford Farms by feeding Hickman information that could get a higher price for chicken frame loads sold by Heritage.

Hickman paid Whiteman a monthly commission through his personal business entity, All Trade Enterprise LLC.

Hickman and Whiteman both pled guilty to defrauding Raeford Farms in March.