Man accused of embezzling $5.5M from Cary company lived a lavish lifestyle, authorities say

Hugh Franklin Johnson II
Hugh Franklin Johnson II CCBI

A former manager at a Cary business is accused of embezzling more than $5.5 million, using a company credit card to take vacations to Mexico, eat at pricey restaurants and give to his church.

Hugh Franklin Johnson II, 48, of Rocky Ford Court in Raleigh was arrested Feb. 6. Search warrants that were made public Tuesday in Wake County paint a picture of Johnson's lavish lifestyle as authorities say he embezzled money from BMG Labtech, Inc., between 2012 and 2017.

Agents with the State Bureau of Investigation found that Johnson used a company credit card to make "hundreds of transactions for expenses" for himself and his friends, according to the search warrants.

Warrants say Johnson stayed at a Ritz Carlton in Florida and Trump International in New York, and that he spent more than $145,000 at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

A bank analyst told investigators that Johnson used a second American Express credit card to dine with his friends at restaurants where he left $100 tips. That card was also used for shopping, airfare and alcohol, the analyst said.

The SBI investigators think Johnson may have been responsible for 333 unauthorized wire transfers. Of that number, 204 went to Johnson and the remaining 104 went to his friends and vendors, including Continental Travel & Tours, RCD Resorts and the U.S. Treasury Department.

BMG, which is based in Germany and has its U.S. offices in Cary, sells devices called microplate readers that are used in biotech and pharmaceutical research. It also has proprietary software that works with its equipment, according to the company's website.

Johnson is listed in filings with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office as secretary of BMG. Search warrants, however, described Johnson as the company's office manager.

A series of indictments made public after Johnson's arrest in February accused him of embezzling company funds to pay for food and drinks purchased at grocery and convenience stores, gas, internet streaming services, pornography, car services, maintenance, housing and rental expenses, gym memberships, utilities, electronic media, print media, home cleaning services and clothing.

Prosecutors say Johnson owns three homes in Wake County and "at least" five luxury vehicles, according to court documents.

Johnson was charged with six felony counts of embezzlement and eight felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

In March, Johnson filed a motion for a bond reduction from $1 million to $200,000. He cited in the affidavit that he cares for his ailing mother and is an active member at his church, where he is involved in recruiting new members, fundraising for scholarships and a men's program.

The motion was denied. Johnson remained in custody Tuesday at the Wake County jail under a $1 million bail, a jail spokesman reported.