Former Weyerhaeuser Employee Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Tax Evasion
EUGENE, Ore.—Susan Tranberg, 61, of Eugene, Oregon, pleaded guilty today in federal court to mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and tax evasion after defrauding her former employer, the Weyerhaeuser Company, out of more than $4.5 million.
“Susan Tranberg used her intimate knowledge of the Weyerhaeuser Company to perpetrate a lengthy and complex fraud. She went to great lengths to disguise her actions and mislead her colleagues,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “She then took her scheme a step further by evading paying taxes on her fraudulent gains. Her crimes reflect a complete disdain for her employer and utter contempt for her responsibilities as an American taxpayer.”
“Between 2004 and 2019, Susan Tranberg purported herself as a trustworthy and dedicated employee. In reality she was embezzling more than $4 million dollars,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. “She cheated both her employer and the American taxpayers by evading taxes on her embezzled income. The IRS is committed to promoting taxpayer confidence by ensuring every taxpayer pays their fair share regardless of the taxable source.”
According to court documents, beginning as early as June 2004 and continuing to January 2019, Tranberg defrauded Weyerhaeuser out of more than $4.5 million by submitting fraudulent invoices for payment to a fake vendor she created. Tranberg had worked for Weyerhaeuser in Springfield, Oregon in various positions for more than 40 years.
At some point in or before June 2004, Tranberg created a fake timber contract between the company and a vendor she named after her mother, who was unware of the scheme. Over the next 10 years, Tranberg would use her positions in the company’s accounting and finance departments, to request cashier’s checks payable to the fake vendor. During this time period, Tranberg requested and received more than $2.6 million.
In June 2014, Weyerhaeuser transitioned to a new payment processing system. To continue her scheme, Tranberg set up a fake vendor account in the new system and attached a letter purportedly from her mother describing the documentation provided to set up the account. This documentation included a Form SSA-1099 Social Security Statement and a forged Form W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification.
Between June 2014 and January 2019, Tranberg continued her scheme by forging colleagues’ signatures on check requests and using her colleagues’ computer login credentials without authorization to create requests and approve fraudulent payments. All requested cashier’s checks were sent via private or commercial interstate carrier directly to Tranberg. During these final five years, Tranberg requested and received nearly $1.9 million.
Tranberg faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. In addition, a conviction for aggravated identity theft carries a two-year mandatory minimum sentence required to be served consecutive to any other prison sentence imposed.
As part of her plea agreement, Tranberg has agreed to pay $4,581,218 in restitution to Weyerhaeuser and $807,033 in restitution to the IRS.
This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.