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Press Release

Champaign County Woman Indicted for Alleged Embezzlement of More Than $600,000 from Former Employer; Filing False Tax Returns

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

URBANA, Ill. – A grand jury has indicted the former office manager of a Champaign, Ill., contractor supply company on charges that she allegedly embezzled more than $600,000 from her employer over five years and filed false income tax returns. The indictment, returned Oct. 7, charges Joan L. Chenoweth, 57, of Tolono, Ill., with embezzling money from Illini Contractor Supply from May 2013 to February 2018.

The indictment alleges that Chenoweth, who had control of the business’s financial records as well as control and access to the business’s credit cards and bank account, wrote unauthorized vendor checks to herself or to cash payable from Illini Contractor Supply’s bank account; wrote unauthorized payroll checks to herself that exceeded her salary; and, used the business’s credit cards to make payments to her personal credit cards. She allegedly used her position as office manager to avoid detection by making false entries in the business’s financial records and omitted true and correct entries. As a result of the alleged scheme, the business suffered a loss of approximately $624,152.

In addition to the fraud charges, Chenoweth is charged with four counts of filing false income tax returns for calendar years 2014-2017.

The charges are the result of investigation by the Champaign Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller is representing the government in the case prosecution.

If convicted, the statutory penalty for each count of wire fraud (five counts) is up to 20 years in prison; for each count of filing a false federal income tax return (four counts), the penalty is up to three years in prison.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Updated October 8, 2020

Financial Fraud