News and Press Releases

aurora woman pleads guilty to mail fraud, false tax returns;
embezzled $253,848 from employer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that an Aurora, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to mail fraud and to filing false tax returns, which were related to a scheme to embezzle $253,848 from her employer.

Diana Kay Erickson, 46, of Aurora, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England.

By pleading guilty today, Erickson admitted that she embezzled $219,606 from Superior Lifts, Inc., between Sept. 7, 2006, and April 2, 2008, and that she embezzled $34,242 from Goolsby Rental Properties between March 14, 2006, and Dec. 18, 2006.

Erickson was employed in 2006 as a bookkeeper at Superior Lifts, which sold automobile lifts and other products. Superior Lifts, which is no longer in business, had its office in Aurora in 2004 then moved to Nixa, Mo., in 2009. The owners of Superior Lifts also operated Goolsby Rental Properties, a second business that managed rental properties in the Wichita, Kan., area. Erickson also performed bookkeeping duties for Goolsby Rental Properties.

When customers of Superior Lifts mailed bank checks as payments, Erickson repeatedly removed those checks and deposited them in her own personal bank account.

Erickson also admitted that she filed false U.S. Individual Tax Returns for tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008. These returns were false because Erickson failed to report income she embezzled from Superior Lifts and Goolsby Rental Properties. As a result, the tax loss to the government (without penalties and interest) was $57,801.

Under federal statutes, Erickson is subject to a sentence of up to 23 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $350,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Aurora, Mo., Police Department and the Lawrence County, Mo., Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

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