Wal-Mart in Settlement With Former Exec

New York City Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said on Thursday it had reached a settlement with its former vice chairman, Tom Coughlin, avoiding a trial that was set to begin this week regarding the former executive's retirement package.

Court officials said terms of the settlement between Coughlin and the Bentonville-based retailer would be sealed for 20 days. Tim Brooks, Coughlin's attorney, said the settlement included a payment to his client, but he wouldn't disclose the amount, according to the Associated Press.

"We're satisfied that the settlement is fair to both parties and are ready to put this one behind us," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore said.

Coughlin resigned from Wal-Mart in 2005 following an internal investigation into improper use of gift cards and other expenses. Wal-Mart accused Coughlin of misappropriating some $500,000 in company funds to buy personal items, including customized dog kennels, vacations, food, clothing and liquor.

Coughlin pleaded guilty in January 2006 to federal charges of wire fraud and tax evasion, and was sentenced to 27 months home detention plus five years probation. He also was ordered to complete 1,500 hours of community service and pay $400,000 in restitution.

Wal-Mart filed a suit against Coughlin in an effort to void his retirement agreement, which lawyers have said could be worth up to $15 million.

Coughlin joined Wal-Mart in 1978 and worked closely with founder Sam Walton.