A Hawaii man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Maine to committing wire fraud against his former employer, a York lobster wholesaler.

Jonathan F. Cowles, 46, now of Honolulu, Hawaii, and formerly of Rowley, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to wiring himself $25,000 in commissions to which he was not entitled from Maine Coast Shellfish, a lobster wholesaler in York. He was also pleaded guilty to shipping about 50,000 pounds of lobster, worth about $360,000, to a customer in China for which Maine Coast was not paid.

Mike Delahanty, the chief financial officer for Maine Coast Shellfish, said Cowles set up a shell company to order the lobster and have it sent to China. Then, when the company tried to bill for the lobster, there was no one to pay the tab, Delahanty said.

“We’re accustomed to chasing collections, but this one obviously wasn’t getting paid,” he said.

Delahanty said Cowles worked as a salesman for the company for about eight months and the commission-skimming and illicit sales occurred from March to June 2014.

He said the financial transactions were uncovered by executives at the company, which has locations in York and Boston and employs nearly 50 people.

Cowles, who will be sentenced later, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He also agreed, under his plea deal, to pay Maine Coast nearly $360,000 in restitution.

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