A Missouri woman was sentenced to six years and seven months in federal prison for embezzling more than $700,000 from the family-owned trucking company and farm where she worked.

Once released from prison, Christen Diane Schulte, 35, of Washington, Missouri, will serve five years of supervised release and has been ordered to pay more than $517,140 in restitution to Maczuk Farms Trucking (MFT) and Maczuk Farms in New Haven, Missouri.

The theft was uncovered by the Maczuk family “after an internal audit before Schulte caused irreparable damage to the business,” Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division said in a statement. “This case highlights the value of having robust internal controls.”

Schulte pleaded guilty in August to wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering charges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Her sentencing date was pushed back twice — in November because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a few days before her second sentencing date of Feb. 5 because of a change of attorneys.

What happened?

Federal prosecutors say Schulte, who worked as the bookkeeper and office manager of the trucking company and farm, diverted a total of $727,000 in company funds over two years from January 2018 to February 2020. 

“As part of her scheme, Schulte fraudulently and without permission used the companies’ credit cards for personal expenditures,” according to court filings. 

She also had American Express and FirstBank issue her new credit cards in the farm and trucking companies’ names and charged more than 1,800 transactions, racking up more than $532,000 on the credit cards.

In addition, Schulte forged the owner’s and several company employees’ signatures on checks from multiple bank accounts, including personal accounts of the employees, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

Some of the checks were made payable to Schulte, while others she made payable to the companies to hide the missing funds related to her credit card scheme.

The trucking company owner also served as the treasurer of the Berger Levee District (BLD) of Franklin County and kept the water district’s checkbook at his office. Prosecutors say Schulte forged the owner’s name on six checks, totaling more than $113,000, from the BLD account and made them payable to the five-truck company and farm to conceal the scheme.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Schulte used the money to purchase jewelry, a travel trailer, vehicles, and tickets to Universal Studios and Green Bay Packers football games, and to pay for living expenses.

Click for more articles by Clarissa Hawes.

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