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Press Release

Champaign County Woman Sentenced to Prison for 52 Months for Embezzlement and Federal Tax Evasion

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

URBANA, Ill. – Joan Chenoweth, of Tolono, Illinois, was sentenced to 52 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, on September 27, 2021, for embezzlement of over $600,000 from her former employer, Illini Contractor Supply, and her failure to pay federal income tax.

United States District Judge Colin S. Bruce imposed the fifty-two month sentence, citing Chenoweth’s lack of concern for others and residual harm to a viable community business. Judge Bruce ordered Chenoweth to pay restitution in the amount of $599,152.72 to Illini Contractor Supply, and an additional $159,384 to the Internal Revenue Service. The prosecution had recommended a fifty-seven-month sentence of imprisonment, reflecting the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

During the sentencing hearing, the government presented testimony from the owner of Illini Contractor Supply who testified to the hardship Chenoweth’s theft placed on the company in the wake of the crime.

Court documents show that from 2014 to 2018, Chenoweth, who had control of the business’s financial records as well as control of 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 used her position as office manager to avoid detection by making false entries in the business’s financial records.

Chenoweth pleaded guilty on May 17, 2021, but had remained free on conditions of bond until her sentencing. Judge Bruce ordered her to report to begin serving her sentence on October 5, 2021.

The Champaign Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division investigated the case. Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller represented the government in the prosecution.

Updated September 27, 2021

Financial Fraud