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    Ex-Wal-Mart VP Gets Six Months' Supervision for Wire Fraud

    FORT SMITH, Ark. -- A former Wal-Mart v.p. of merchandising systems who had spent 20 years with the company was sentenced Friday to one day in prison and six months of supervised release for wire fraud convictions. He was also fined $3,000.

    FORT SMITH, Ark. -- A former Wal-Mart v.p. of merchandising systems who had spent 20 years with the company was sentenced Friday to one day in prison and six months of supervised release for wire fraud convictions. He was also fined $3,000.

    The former executive, Robert E. Hey Jr., pleaded guilty in November to three counts. He was accused of manipulating invoices to embezzle money for his boss, former Wal-Mart vice chairman Thomas Coughlin. Prosecutors say that over a period of seven years, Hey wrote fake vouchers to get money and Wal-Mart gift cards, which he later gave to Coughlin.

    Coughlin pleaded guilty in January to five counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 11.

    Hey agreed to testify against Coughlin as part of a plea agreement.

    Hey spent more than 20 years at Wal-Mart. He also was a company officer. The wire fraud involved improper payment for out-of-state trips and payments to a Bentonville auto repair company for improvements to a pickup truck.

    In other Wal-Mart news, Wal-Mart and other retailers are challenging Maryland's new law requiring Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health care. The companies argued before a Baltimore judge Friday that only the federal government may dictate health spending by private companies.

    Maryland's law requires large employers to spend at least 8 percent of payroll on health care, or pay the difference in taxes. It's set to take effect in January.

    The Retail Industry Leaders Association, of which Wal-Mart is a member, argued that the law unfairly targets Wal-Mart. Barring court intervention, the law takes effect in January.

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