Woman Admits Cheating Small Trucking Company as Part of $725K Fraud Scheme
St. Louis, MO – A Missouri woman is facing 60 years in prison after admitting in U.S. District Court this week that she cheated her former employer, a trucking company, as part of a more than $725,000 fraud scheme.
On Monday, Christen Diane Schulte, 34, of Washington, MO, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering charges related to a scheme to defraud her former employer, several individuals associated with her former employer, the Berger Levee District of Franklin County, and several financial institutions.
According to court documents, Schulte was a former bookkeeper and office manager of a farm and small trucking company based in New Haven, MO.
Schulte admitted that between January 2018 and February 2020, she knowingly and intentionally devised and executed a scheme to defraud her former employer and others out of approximately $727,000.
As part of her scheme, Schulte fraudulently and without permission used the companies’ credit cards for personal expenditures.
Schulte also fraudulently caused American Express and FirstBank to issue her new credit cards in the names of the companies.
Court records also show she fraudulently charged more than 1,800 transactions totaling more than $532,000 on these credit cards.
Further, Schulte also forged the signatures of the owner and several employees of companies, on checks from several different bank accounts, including personal accounts of the employees.
Several of these checks were made payable to Schulte, but some of them she made payable to the companies in order to conceal the lost funds related to her credit card scheme, court documents indicate.
However, her scheme didn’t end there.
Other forged checks were drawn from a bank account held by the Berger Levee District of Franklin County, which is a tax-payer funded levee district that is responsible for creating flood control projects in Franklin County, MO.
Schulte forged the treasurer’s signature of the Berger Levee District on checks that she made payable to the companies in order to conceal the lost funds related to her credit card scheme.
Schulte used the fraudulently obtained funds to purchase jewelry, a travel trailer, vehicles, and vacation travel.
“Christen Schulte exploited the position of trust she occupied at a small, family-owned business,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division.
Schulte faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the two wire fraud charges; a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine on the two bank fraud charges; and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than the greater of $250,000, or twice the amount laundered, on the money laundering charge.
Restitution is also mandatory.
Her sentencing date is set for November 10, 2020.