Ron Tully accused of stealing more than $800,000 from Richmond-based tobacco trade association

Federal authorities are accusing the co-founder of a tobacco trade association of stealing more than $833,000 from it over a five-year period.

Ronald Tully, 57, of Gilbert, Ariz., was charged with mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Richmond on Monday.

Tully’s lawyer, Thomas T. Cullen, of Roanoke, said Tuesday that neither he nor his client could comment at this time.

The government alleges that the scheme, which victimized the Council of Independent Tobacco Manufacturers of America, began around March 2009 and continued until January 2016.

The Richmond-based council, formed in 2003, represents the interests of independent manufacturers through lobbying of federal and state legislatures. It is funded by membership dues paid by tobacco and tobacco product businesses, said the U.S. attorney’s office.

While Tully was a founder of the council and also one of its two “primary operatives,” he was not an employee or paid consultant.

He did, however, handle the council’s checkbook and bank account statements for which his longtime employer, the National Tobacco Company, a council member business, paid him for the time and any expenses he incurred while performing work for the council.

His council duties included writing checks to cover its expenses. Prosecutors allege that Tully began defrauding the council of funds by writing council checks payable to himself and later to a consulting company he created, TNV Ventures.

When presenting the checks to the bank for payment, he indicated on the memorandum line that they were reimbursement for council-related travel and meeting expenses. Tully allegedly either never incurred such expenses, or if he did, he was reimbursed or would be paid back by his employer.

The funds were allegedly deposited into accounts that Tully controlled and the money spent on personal expenses.

In addition to the mail fraud charge, the filing also seeks his forfeiture of $833,599.93 — the amount his scheme allegedly illegally netted.

Go to top