Former Velda City Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Stealing Approximately $400,000 in City Funds, and Stealing Approximately $150,000 from a Charity
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri
St. Louis, MO –Venita Sedodo, 32, of St. Charles, Missouri, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud related to her former position as Treasurer of Velda City, Missouri, and two counts of mail fraud related to her former position as Trust Secretary for the Travelers Protective Association of America, Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired. Sedodo appeared today in front of United States District Judge Stephen R. Clark who set her sentencing hearing for May 28, 2020.
According to the court documents, Sedodo served as the Treasurer for Velda City, Missouri. From November, 2015 through October, 2018, Sedodo schemed to steal approximately $400,000 from the city. During that time, Sedodo issued approximately 90 unauthorized Velda City checks to herself, which she deposited into several of her personal bank accounts. Sedodo spent the stolen funds on personal items and services such as clothing, automobile payments, as well as making numerous cash withdrawals. Sedodo also issued unauthorized Velda City checks directly to a number of businesses to pay for personal items and services. Further, Sedodo made numerous unauthorized ACH wire transmissions of funds from Velda City bank accounts to pay for personal items and services at businesses such as BMW, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Commerce Bank to pay off charges on her personal credit cards. Altogether, Sedodo’s fraud scheme netted her approximately $400,000 in funds stolen from Velda City.
Sedodo was also employed as the Trust Secretary for the Travelers Protective Association of America, Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired (“TPA Scholarship Trust”). This is a charitable organization which provides financial aid to individuals with deafness or hearing deficiencies. From June, 2014, through January, 2019, Sedodo submitted false and fraudulent grant applications for her family members and friends to the charity’s Board of Trustees. These grant applications falsely claimed that the individual applicants suffered from deafness or hearing impairment, and Sedodo created and submitted along with the applications false audiograms and audiological evaluations. Sedodo did not advise the Board of Trustees that the individual applicants were her family members and friends. Once the Board of Trustees unwittingly approved the grant applications, Sedodo processed and issued checks to the individual applicants, who then cashed the checks and split the proceeds with Sedodo. None of the grant funds were used for legitimate health care or treatment related to deafness or hearing impairment, but were used by Sedodo and her family and friends for their own personal use and expenses. Sedodo obtained approximately $156,100 from TPA Scholarship Trust through her fraudulent scheme.
"Venita Sedodo abused her position as Velda City treasurer to embezzle tax funds, resulting in bounced paychecks for hard-working co-workers and vendors who depend on Velda City for their livelihood," said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. "In addition, Sedodo exploited her treasurer’s job at a charity to embezzle money intended for the deaf or hard of hearing. She is now being held accountable for her financial self-dealings.”
Sedodo faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. Restitution is also mandatory.
In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Updated February 21, 2020