CSK Auto Corp. Agrees to Pay $21 Million for Fraud of Former Execs; Ex-CFO Don Watson of Gilbert Faces Possible Five-Year Sentence

CSK Auto Corporation has agreed to pay $20.9 million to the feds due to the crimes of its former top executives.

CSK Auto is the parent company of O'Reilly Auto Parts, which used to do business under the names of Checker, Kragen and Murray's auto parts.

One of those former execs, Don Walter Watson of Gilbert, was the "most culpable" in the scheme to overstate earnings and fool investors in the publicly traded company, court records say.

Federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton to put Watson in prison for five years when he's sentenced on September 19. Two other execs in the scandal face upcoming sentencing hearings in Phoenix. All three have pleaded guilty.

The firm's former CEO, Martin Fraser, had also been indicted, but the Glendale resident died last year.

The scandal involved hiding tens of millions of dollars in uncollectible debts from vendors, which had the result of falsely inflating the company's revenues. Accounting wonks can learn more about the complex scheme in the Justice Department's news release about the settlement, and Watson's role is outlined in the sentencing memo below.

The Gilbert fraudster's actually getting off easy: His plea agreement wipes out most of the indictment's counts; he faced a lifetime in the slammer if convicted on everything.

Watson Don Sentencing Memo

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.