News and Press Releases

kC woman pleads guilty to bank fraud, embezzled from employer

September 9, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to a bank fraud scheme in which she embezzled more than $100,000 from her employer.

Mary Ellen Schorgl, 50, of Kansas City, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to a federal information that charges her with bank fraud.

Schorgl was hired by Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG) in December 2003 and began defrauding AWG and U.S. Bank in January 2004. AWG is a wholesale supplier of groceries and grocery products to over 2,500 retail outlets in 24 states. Schorgl was employed as the company’s property and lease administration manager until May 2011, and was responsible to oversee and manage properties owned or controlled by AWG. Her duties included making lease payments, paying property taxes, and paying vendors for repair or maintenance of properties.

By pleading guilty today, Schorgl admitted that she created false invoices for repairs or other services on properties that she managed, which she submitted to AWG for payment. Schorgl requested that those checks be returned to her directly, claiming that she would deliver the checks to the vendor or service provider. Instead, Schorgl often forged the payee’s endorsement and made the checks payable to J & L Electric, Inc., a company owned by her and her husband.

Schorgl also admitted that she created and submitted false invoices for Bradley Operating Company, an AWG vendor located in Chicago, Ill., totaling more than $103,000. Those payments were deposited into a bank account she opened under the name of “Mary E. Schorgl, dba Bradley Operating Co.”

An internal audit was initiated by AWG in April 2011, which quickly determined that there were significant discrepancies with respect to payments to outside vendors. The loss amount to AWG has continued to grow as the investigation has proceeded.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Schorgl must liquidate the entire balance of her AWG penion fund and 401(k) account, totaling approximately $43,000, as part of her restitution payment to AWG.

Under federal statutes, Schorgl is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million. 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 Roseann Ketchmark. It was investigated by the FBI.

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