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Diversion of checks leads to bank fraud conviction

Embezzlement is a classic white-collar crime. The people charged with it usually work in offices and have been entrusted by their employers to handle money. It's not like robbing a convenience store or a bank. In fact, people who misappropriate funds from their employers often intend to repay the money.

In a recent St. Louis embezzlement case, a 47-year-old woman who worked for a water damage remediation company called The Flood Team was convicted of diverting company checks and other funds to her personal use. The amount involved was over $40,000.

The woman was hired as finance director for the business in August 2011. Her responsibilities included keeping books and records, paying bills and tracking the finances. This included making deposits and managing bank accounts.

Prosecutors alleged, however, that the woman kept open a separate, secret account that she used to divert checks and other funds. She then wrote checks to herself on the separate account and cashed them at various places in the St. Louis area. This pattern of activity allegedly went for about six months, from November 2011 until April 2012.

In a plea agreement last week, the woman pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. The count was a felony count. Sentencing will not be until May. But the potential consequences are severe.

The maximum prison sentence for felony bank fraud is 30 years. Federal sentencing guidelines will apply, and those guidelines also take account of offender characteristics, such as whether the person being sentenced has previous convictions. A federal judge will issue the sentence using the guidelines.

Source: "St. Louis woman pleads guilty to embezzling from Flood restoration company," KMOV, 1-29-13

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