|Local woman accused of stealing over $250,000 from Sellersburg company|
A Sellersburg woman has been indicted on six counts of wire fraud after allegedly stealing over $250,000 from her employer of 27 years.
Lesley R. Kruer, 42, was arraigned in front of a federal judge on Thursday morning (June 18) in New Albany for six counts of wire fraud. Allegedly Kruer stole over $250,000 from AJS Associates, Alice J. Schleicher, Inc. and Alice J. Schleicher, LLC over a 10 year period. Kruer was the office manager of the local company that owns and operates 28 KFC Restaurants throughout the region.
According to police the thefts began in July 2004 and the case was opened by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office on July 11, 2014. As the office manager Kruer’s responsibilities gave her the authority to use the company’s business credit cards and have access to company bank accounts. She was also in charge of the company payroll.
“She would give herself quarterly bonuses that were not authorized and she would give herself raises. She would also overpay vendors and then when the vendor would send a reimbursement check, she would deposit the check into her own personal account,” stated Scottie Maples, Public Information Officer for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
“Most of the transactions were $2,000 or $1,800. Then she deposited a $5,000 check. Your Community Bank then contacted the Schleicher family due to the suspicious activity,” Maples added. “Lesley worked there for 27 years. She was considered a friend from the Schleichers.”
Once the alleged unauthorized activity was brought to the family’s attention, they immediately turned to an expert for a forensic audit. The family contacted and hired Franklin CPA of Sellersburg. The accounting firm has a history of success in helping businesses with forensic audits.
“The Schleicher family contracted our firm to conduct a forensic audit. The audit was led by Marcy Franklin, CPA, who worked closely with the family, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Secret Service over the last year,” explained Kristy Franklin, Director of Operations at Franklin CPA. “A forensic audit is beneficial to our clients if a breach of trust has occurred. Often restitution or financial relief from insurance companies are a result of a well conducted audit.”
This case is the fourth case Franklin has been involved with for a forensic audit. The three other cases have resulted in charges, according to Kristy Franklin.
“The Schleichers contacted Franklin CPA. Marcy did the audit. After she finished the audit, they contacted the Sheriff’s Office with the findings. The Sheriff’s Office then subpenaed bank records. We seen the amount of money involved and we contacted the Secret Service,” Maples continued. “The Secret Service was really good to work with in this case. We contacted them to assist.”
Major Donnie Bowyer, Chief of Detectives for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was the lead investigator on this case.
According to Maples, Kruer’s reason for stealing the money was to help her kids’ extracurricular activities.
“Her reasoning for stealing the money was that she provided money to the traveling youth baseball league for her kids. She also advised that she needed a little money here and there,” Maples explained.
According to reports, Kruer allegedly also used the company credit cards for the purchase of a foot massager and to pay her personal cell phone bill.
Maples continued, “The Secret Service was involved because they can provide resources the Clark County Sheriff’s Department cannot. Anytime we can partner with another agency to provide a complete and thorough investigation it makes us better at providing for the victims. We are trying to strengthen our partnerships with surrounding agencies. The Secret Service was great to work with and helped to provide some justice to the Schleicher family.”
Craig Hutzell, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service, agreed with Maples in a released statement.
“This case demonstrates the strong partnership of the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force and the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in protecting individuals and businesses in the community,” Hutzell stated. “We will continue to leverage this relationship in our pursuit of those who would use illegal means and criminal behavior to take advantage of others”
Maples concluded, “The Schleichers are very generous to all of Clark County. They put a lot of money back into the community. The Schleichers are a good family in Clark County. I am just happy to see some justice for this family.”
Kruer was arrested on Wednesday (June 17) and was in front of a federal judge on Thursday (June 18). She was released on her own recognizance for another court date. Kruer faces up to 20 years in a federal prison if convicted on the six counts of wire fraud.
The legal issues are continuing for Kruer. Dan Moore, attorney for the Schleicher family, has filed a civil suit on the family’s behalf against Kruer and the two accounting firms that originally performed the audits for AJS Associates, Alice J. Schleicher, Inc. and Alice J. Schleicher, LLC. Kruer is named in the civil suit with Melheiser Endres Tucker CPA’s Professional Corporation d/b/a Rodefer- Moss & Co, PLLC and Deming Malone Livesay & Ostroff, P.S.C.
“My clients came to me and raised concerns why others were not checking these numbers and once they hired a forensic accountant it was discovered different ways that were being used to take the money either by intercepting refund checks, increasing line item checks and misusing signature authority on a number of accounts,” Moore explained.
Moore continued, “My clients, the Schleichers, are pillars of this community. They are always so generous in supporting youth groups, volunteer programs and education. These groups are the ones suffering because the Schleichers have to recover from this devastating breach of trust. From a lawyer’s perspective, I think the story is still unfolding and I hope that Ms. Kruer might identify others who had knowledge of this.”
Moore went on to explain the civil case against Kruer, Melheiser Endres Tucker CPA’s Professional Corporation d/b/a Rodefer-Moss & Co., PLLC and Deming Malone Livesay & Ostroff, P.S.C., “The criminal case will have a life of it’s own. And, I’m going to use the civil case to discover what I can and help my clients recoup their loses. I know that if they (Schleichers) get restored to where they once were, then the community groups they have always helped may be able to count on them in the future. Right now they (community groups) are the ones that will suffer.”