A McLean, Va., man was sentenced today to two years in federal prison and fined $5,000 for falsely using the names of 17 Pennsylvania doctors on loan applications to finance construction of a six-story downtown office complex here.
Philander P. Claxton, III, 32, founder and former chief executive officer of the Watkins Corp. of McLean, which owns the franchise for 32 International House of Pancakes restaurants, has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to filing forged documents on loan applications totaling $3 million.
Claxton gained international attention two years ago when he and a copilot flew a twin prop airplane around the world in a record 104 hours, 5 minutes and 30 seconds.
The 32 restaurants, six of which are in the Washington area, are now involved in bankruptcy proceedings, according to Harold Toller, an accountant for the firm.
The company, started by Claxton in 1976, "never made much money," Toller said. "Phil (Claxton) kept doing strange things with the funds."
Toller said that in April the corporation's board of directors asked Claxton and the company's president to leave. They did, Toller said. Among other things, Toller said that Watkins never mailed to the Internal Revenue Service the corporation's checks for withholding taxes.
The corporation employed between 15 and 20 workers in its McLean office, Toller said, and another 1,100 in the restaurants, which are now being taken over by the IHOP company during the bankruptcy proceedings.
The local franchise operations owned by Watkins are located in Warrenton and Clarendon, Va., and Marlow Heights, Wheaton, Laurel, Hyattsville and Riverdale.
A first meeting of the company's creditors is scheduled for Sept. 11, Toller said.The company owes about $1.6 million and recently defaulted on a $1 million loan from Union First National Bank, Toller said. Toller added that there were "several other incidental things" surrounding the corporation's finances.
During his sentencing yesterday, Claxton told Chief Judge William J. Nealon that it was vital that he not begin his sentence for at least 90 days "so I can attempt to straighten out financial dealings that only I am acquainted with." Nealon stayed the beginning of the sentence until Nov. 1.
Attorney Alan J. Davis, Philadelphia, counsel for Claxton, noted that his client had participated in the Vietnam conflict and the Cambodian incursion as a Green Beret. Davis said Claxton acquired his pilot's license at the age of 30, and he holds a degree from Harvard.
Claxton told Judge Nealon that "a project here in Scranton" needs his attention. "I am meeting on that matter as soon as I leave here," he told the judge.