Sunday, August 5, 2012

Major Embezzlement Cases: July 24 - 31

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a $3.7 million embezzlement reported by First Security Bank in Malta, Montana.  The employee suspected in the long-term misappropriation scheme has not yet been named.  Developing...   
Update (8/10/12): Rhonda Lee Devries, 50, has pleaded not guilty to one count each of embezzlement by a bank officer, credit card fraud and money laundering for defrauding First Security Bank of Malta out of nearly $3.7 million over a period of nearly 12 years.  Devries allegedly set up high-limit credit accounts for phony companies she created and withdrew the funds for her own benefit.
Update (11/27/12): Devries was sentenced to 110 months in prison and ordered to pay $3,811,221.52 in restitution.

Leon E. Piepenbrink, 52, of St Paul, Minnesota, has been sentenced to one year in jail for embezzling  as much as $300,000 from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod where he had served as a pastor.  The thefts spanned a period of about three years, from 2007 to 2010.  Piepenbrink pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft by swindle this past April.

Barbara Kaye Rechtzigel, 47, of Belview, Minnesota, has been charged with embezzling about $1 million from customer CD accounts at Minwest Bank in Marshall where she had been employed.   According to prosecutors, Rechtzigel misappropriated funds for personal use over a period of 14 years, beginning in 1998.  She has been charged with one count of embezzlement by a bank officer.  Rechtzigel and her husband, Ken Rechtzigel, are reported to be the owners of The Brauhaus in Lucan, Minnesota, which they purchased in October 2008.  Hmmm.  I wonder where they got the money to do that...
Update (8/7/12):  Rechtzigel pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by a bank officer.
Update (1/16/13): Rechtzigel, now 48, was sentenced to 2 years in prison and ordered to pay $1,013,018.27 in restitution.

John F. Losee, 61, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, has has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $800,000 from Heim Manufacturing Corp., where he had been employed as General Manager.  Losee's scheme spanned a reorted 6 years, from April 2003 to May 2009 where he issued more than 220 checks payable to the fictitious business Losee created.  In a plea agreement, Losee pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and filing a false federal income tax return. 
Update: Losee was sentenced to 21 months in prison.  The case was first investigated in 2009.

Robert Bruist
Robert Michael Eugene “Gene” Bruist, 35, of Fort Meyers, Florida, has been charged with embezzling about $900,000 from the non-profit Center for Independent Living of Southwest Florida, where he had served as Executive Director.  Authorities allege that Bruist converted state funding, federal grants, non-profit grants and personal donations for his own use to support "an extravagant lifestyle." Sadly, the non-profit has been shuttered. 

Marti Schrauben
Marti James Schrauben, 38, of Portland, Michigan, has been charged with embezzling nearly $500,000 from customers and insurance companies while he was an employee at Schrauben-Lehman Funeral Home.  The thefts spanned a two year period from 2008 through 2010.  Schrauben has been charged with 27 felony fraud counts. 
Update (3/5/13): Schrauben pleaded guilty to felony charges of uttering and publishing and no contest to counts of forgery, uttering and publishing, insurance fraud and embezzlement of more than $50,000.

Update (3/10/15): Schrauben seeks retrial after conviction for embezzling nearly $500,000 from funeral home clients.  Read the updated story here.

Arlene Francis Spinuzzi, 58, formerly of Apple Valley, California, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for embezzling more than $415,000 in welfare funds from the San Bernardino County Welfare Department where he had been employed as a welfare eligibility worker.  The sentenced was handed down after Spinuzzi pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds.  Spinuzzi reportedly authorized payments to her family members for child care services that were never provided.  Her family members including her husband, Michael Kenneth Debar, 57, her father Gerald Zibell, 82, and her daughter Sarah Debar Parks, 24, were indicted on a total of 90 felony counts of grand theft and misappropriation of public funds in February 2011.  Debar pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of misappropriation of public funds and was sentenced to 10 yearss in prison.  Parks pleaded guilty to one felony count of misappropriation of public funds and received a sentence of probation.  Zibell died this past April while awaiting trial. 

Sharon M. Cutter, believed to be 50, of Methuen, Massachusetts, has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from St. Ann's Home and School where she had served as chief financial officer.  Over a period of more than 6 years, from July 2006 to October 2012, Cutter reportedly used the non-profit's credit cards and petty cash to purchase items for personal use.  Cutter was a 23-year veteran employee of St. Ann's, a residential program for troubled youths and an affiliate of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston

Angela Patrice Madison, 41, and Tracy Dione Jackson, 42, both of Minneapolis, Minnesota, have been charged with embezzling more than $1.6 million from ING, the international insurance and investment firm where they both worked.  Madison was responsible for handling ING clients who sought to obtain loans or surrender their life insurance policies and allegedly used the company's computer system to generate false statements in the name of various people, including Jackson.  Prosecutors allege that the two conspired to cause nearly 200 checks to be drawn on ING accounts for their own benefit.  The two have reportedly a history of filing for bankruptcy; Madison with a Chapter 7 liquidation in 2003 and Jackson with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1997 and a Chapter 13 petition in 1998. 
Update (2/28/13): Madison was sentenced to 35 months in prison for her guilty plea on one count of aiding and abetting mail fraud.  Jackosn received 27 months for the same charge.  The fraud was comitted over a period of about 9 years from 2003 to 2012.

Walter Conkright Jr., 45, of Jamestown, New York, has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from the Jamestown Moose Lodge 1681 where he had served as an administrator.  He has been indicted on a single count of third-degree grand larceny.

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