A secretary who worked at a family farm business in Missouri embezzled $1.2 million by writing at least 44 checks in her name, according to federal authorities.
His theft made it appear the company’s profits were falling, prompting the family to sell the Ralls County business “for a reduced amount,” according to a Jan. 24 news release from the US Attorney’s Office. for the Eastern District of Missouri.
“Had the company’s books reflected its true earnings, the family would have kept the business to support the next generation or could have sold it for more money,” authorities said.
Stephanie D. Carper, who now lives in Alabama, pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud in October and admitted that she stole the money between September 2013 and September 2019, McClatchy News reported.
Now the 51-year-old woman has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, authorities said.
The defense attorney representing Carper did not immediately respond to a McClatchy News request for comment.
In the plea agreement signed by Carper, he admitted that he would take pre-signed blank checks and write his name on the recipient line. He would also write how much he wanted to steal on the check.
The checks were actually signed for her to pay the licensed vendors, authorities said.
Carper would then deposit those checks into his personal account, authorities said, stealing more than $1.2 million.
He also admitted writing false explanations on deposit slips and descriptions of false transactions in the business check register, according to court records. In many cases, he wrongly stated that the checks were used to pay the company’s primary vendor.
At least some of the money was used to buy a 2015 Nissan Murano SUV, a 2016 Toyota Tundra pickup and a Caterpillar 247 skid steer, records show.
He also used the stolen money to pay for Alaska vacations and other trips, authorities said.
“Stephanie Carper brazenly abused the good nature, sympathy and trust of the owners of a family business in rural Missouri,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg said in the statement. “After being hired as a secretary, she paid the owners back by robbing them blind.”
The vehicles and $31,000 in a bank account were seized to help pay for what was stolen, authorities said.
“The damage caused is irreparable,” a letter written on behalf of the company read, according to the statement. “Everything (the founders) worked for was lost in the damage Ms. Carper did.”
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