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Throw the book at him: Man charged in $2.8M textbook theft

An Oklahoma textbook salesman is accused of stealing $2.8 million worth of textbooks, using the money from resale to buy high-end home furnishings and scuba diving equipment, federal authorities said.

After a five-year investigation, the FBI arrested Christopher J. Brock in Florida this week, charging him with wire fraud.

Brock, 44, of Yukon, Okla., worked as a sales rep and district sales supervisor for John Wiley & Sons. The company, whose headquarters are in Hoboken, N.J., is one of the largest publishers of technical writing in the world.

According to a complaint released by federal court in New Jersey, Brock accessed company computers remotely to divert 16,000 textbooks and other items designated as free educational samples for schools and teachers to himself.

Brock disguised his fraudulent activity by designating both real and fabricated professors as the supposed recipients of the materials, according to court papers, and listed his home address as well as other addresses under his supervision as the shipping destinations.

After receiving the stolen textbooks, Brock sold them to re-sellers over the Internet, receiving payment through PayPal accounts that he controlled, according to the complaint.

Representatives from Wiley did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

If convicted, Brock will face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $6 million--twice the amount lost by Wiley.