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Former wholesaler accused of fraud

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A man who fled to Mexico after being indicted by a federal grand jury has been arrested and accused of defrauding Mathis Brothers Furniture out of $142,000.

Jesse Michael Parrish, 57, was arrested last week in Arkansas, said James Robinson, an assistant U.S. attorney.

Parrish pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Oklahoma City federal court. Federal prosecutors are asking that bail be denied because they believe he is a flight risk.

Parrish was indicted in 1997 by a federal grand jury and accused of conspiracy and money laundering, but fled before he could be arrested, Robinson said.

According to the indictment, Parrish was a Dallas businessman in 1993 and 1994 who bought furniture made in Mexico for resale. He is accused of entering into a scheme with then-Mathis Brothers employee Wendell Todd to sell fictitious furniture to the company.

Parrish is accused of being paid by the Mathis Brothers former employee for merchandise that was never delivered. Todd, a buyer for the store, created fraudulent invoices for merchandise allegedly purchased from Parrish, the indictment states.

Todd pleaded guilty in 1996 to filing a false federal income tax return and was sentenced to two years' probation.
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