Auto Parts Firm's CFO Pleads Guilty After Manipulating Earnings

PHOENIX (AP) — The former chief financial officer for a national auto parts retailer has pleaded guilty to a scheme to manipulate the company's earnings.

Prosecutors say Don W. Watson pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit securities and mail fraud by misstating the reported earnings of CSK Auto Corp. from 2001 through 2006.

The 55-year-old Watson and CSK's former president were indicted in the case in April 2009.

The men were accused of covering up uncollectable debts at the Phoenix-based parent company of parts retailers Kragen, Checker Auto, Schuck's Auto Supply and Murray's Discount Auto Stores.

Prosecutors say that resulted in incorrect financial reports in fiscal years 2002, 2003 and 2004 that overstated income by about $52 million combined.

CSK was bought by Springfield, Mo.-based O'Reilly Automotive Inc. in 2008.