News and Press Releases

Leslie Susan Stehr Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on July 8, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, LESLIE SUSAN STEHR, a 45-year-old resident of Missoula, pled guilty to embezzlement by a bank employee and income tax evasion. Sentencing is set for October 29, 2009.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

STEHR began working at First National Bank of Montana in February of 1999. She began embezzling money from the bank in November of 1999. STEHR'S position as teller supervisor and vault supervisor enabled her to manipulate the bank's records and reconcile the numbers in the General Ledger with the vault numbers.

First National Bank conducted surprise vault counts on a regular basis, but did not find out about STEHR'S embezzlement because she adjusted the cash count every day to make sure the cash in the vault matched the number in the General Ledger. In order to accomplish accurate daily adjustments, STEHR maintained a running total of the amount of stolen funds. From 1999 through 2008, STEHR stole approximately $803,000 in cash.

During the entire period that STEHR embezzled from First National Bank, she failed to report the stolen funds as income and failed to pay federal income taxes on those amounts. STEHR'S 2007 federal income tax return, filed in 2008, listed taxable income of $23,681 and tax due and owing in the amount of $3,160. Had STEHR included the embezzled funds from 2007 on her return, her taxable income would have been $184,948 and her tax due and owing would have been $50,835.

When interviewed by law enforcement on February 1, 2008, STEHR admitted stealing money from First National Bank at both the Brooks and Higgins Street branches. She said she initially took money from her teller window, but when those amounts were too high to go unnoticed she wrote false transfer tickets indicating that she transferred money into the vault when she had not. STEHR said she stole $466,000 from the Brooks Street branch and $336,000 from the Higgins Street branch. She spent the money shopping, paying bills, buying lavish gifts for herself and her friends, and traveling.

STEHR faces possible penalties of 30 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division, and the Missoula Police Department.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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