News and Press Releases

former bank employee pleads guilty to
$540,000 embezzlement, tax fraud

February 27, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former employee of Jefferson Bank in Jefferson City, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today to embezzling more than $540,000 from the bank and another employer and to tax fraud.

Kelley Lee Steiner, 52, of Jefferson City, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to the charges contained in a federal information.

Steiner was employed by Jefferson Bank as vice president and secretary to the board of directors from June 14, 1999 to Nov. 12, 2008. Steiner served as personal executive assistant to former bank president Harold W. Westhues. By pleading guilty today, Steiner admitted that she embezzled a total of $487,199 from both the bank and from Westhues’ personal checking account. Steiner also admitted that she embezzled $54,000 while employed at Modern Business Systems. By failing to report the embezzled funds as income on her federal tax returns from 2005 to 2008, Steiner caused tax harm to the United Sates in the amount of $106,192.

Steiner had been given authority to write checks on Westhues’ personal account and sign his name to those checks in order to pay his personal expenses. During an audit of Westhues’ personal checking account, the bank discovered that Steiner had, without authority, diverted funds totaling approximately $378,000 for her personal benefit, which included writing checks to herself and paying her personal credit card bills and her children’s college expenses.

Steiner also prepared paperwork for the bank to reimburse Westhues for work-related expenses incurred by him which were typically charged to his credit card. Investigation determined that Steiner had diverted approximately $19,070 in valid reimbursement funds from Westhues, and used them to pay on her personal credit cards. Steiner also submitted false documentation to the bank for work-related expenses purportedly incurred by Westhues, which were then reimbursed by the bank, including the re-submission of valid credit card statements which had already been previously reimbursed by the bank.  It was discovered that an additional $29,947 had been diverted by Steiner to pay on her personal credit card accounts.

Steiner was responsible for paying the board of directors for participating in board meetings, audit meetings, and other special bank meetings. Board members were paid $400 in cash for each meeting they attended. During a review of board fees paid by the bank in 2008, a bank officer identified approximately $60,400 in cash embezzled by Steiner that had purportedly been paid as board fees.

Under federal statutes, Steiner is subject to a sentence of up to 33 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1,250,000 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 Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Missouri Division of Finance.

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