Initially, Szweda faced up to 20 years in prison for five counts of theft by swindle from St. Jude. The original complaint claimed Szweda had fraudulently received over $117,000 from the company for personal expenses, then absconded with company secrets when he was terminated in 2014. However, the count of theft of trade secrets was dropped before Tuesday’s hearing.
Per the plea agreement’s terms, defense attorney Andrew Birrell said Szweda will have a stayed 21-month prison sentence while on probation, but is not expected to serve any jail time. For pleading guilty to the single count of theft by swindle, he will work 500 hours of community service and pay restitution of $117,090. Prosecutors also agreed to drop the other four counts of theft of over $5,000 during different time periods. Szweda will, however, retain a felony on his criminal record.
“Today’s agreement marks the end of a painful 18-month chapter in the lives of my family and I,” Szweda told Medical Product Outsourcing. “While my professional efforts not only saved St. Jude millions of dollars, they directly resulted in product development that improved the lives of people who used the company’s products. Thus, to say that the charges made against me were hurtful and surprising is an understatement. Therefore, this agreement is a much-welcomed new beginning for my family and me because it finally allows us to move ahead in our lives.”
Szweda was vice president of operations for St. Jude in June 2014 when invoices he had submitted totaling over $36,000 to Patterson Enterprizes were flagged by an employee. He did not provide appropriate documentation when asked to justify the expenses, claiming that Ryan Patterson, manager of Patterson Enterprizes, had provided 52.5 hours of coaching sessions. According to the complaint, upon further investigation, these were found to be false claims.
Szweda was put on administrative leave from St. Jude September 8, 2014 and was subsequently terminated from the company on September 20, 2014. He became employed at Edwards Lifesciences soon after, but according to Pioneer Press, a representative at Edwards said Tuesday that Szweda is no longer employed there.
Szweda is expected to be sentenced April 24.