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Former employee pleads guilty to embezzling from Jefferson City companies

Former employee pleads guilty to embezzling from Jefferson City companies

February 21st, 2019 in Local News

A Jefferson City woman pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to embezzling more than $65,000 from her employer, according to a news release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Laura Lynn Winge, 47, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of theft from an employee benefit plan.

Winge worked as a bookkeeper for Turk's Construction Inc., a residential construction company, and an affiliated company, Pools Unlimited LLC, which builds in-ground swimming pools and spas, from July 2009 until she left employment March 11, 2016. Company employees participated in an IRA plan administered by Winge.

Winge admitted she had withheld $56,876 of the IRA plan deferrals from employees' payroll from Jan. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2016, but never forwarded them to their individual accounts. Winge also admitted she had never forwarded the required employer matching contributions of $38,913 for the same time period. Instead, Winge kept those funds in the companies' operating accounts and used the employees' deferrals for her own use and the use of another, including approximately $49,214 for her own personal benefit.

Winge's theft consisted of $12,871 in unauthorized payroll checks to herself, $19,073 in unauthorized pay by inflating her hours worked, $5,447 in unauthorized spending on the companies' credit card, and $11,822 in health insurance premiums for her dependents.

Winge also admitted she had obtained $16,316 in services and products from the companies and a related company (Midwest Welding) for which she did not pay, but amended the invoices to show they were paid.

Winge's theft from the companies totaled $65,531.

Winge is subject to a sentence of up to 35 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

The Cole County Sheriff's Department assisted federal authorities in investigating this case.