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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Brandon Woman Sentenced for Wire Fraud

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Brandon, South Dakota, woman convicted of Wire Fraud was sentenced on December 21, 2020, by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier.

Sheila Verbrugge, age 50, was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $577,577.63, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $100.

Verbrugge was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 17, 2020.  She pled guilty on September 28, 2020.

Verbrugge was the billing and payroll clerk for Blachowske Truck Line, Inc., located in Brandon.  Verbrugge’s duties included managing the company’s T-Chek account.  T-Chek is a system used to pay for various job-related expenses incurred by truck drivers, such as fuel and truck maintenance.  Each week, T-Chek e-mailed an invoice to the company for that week’s charges.  The invoices were paid electronically using an automated clearing house (ACH) payment.

Between approximately January 2010 and continuing through April 8, 2020, Verbrugge falsely and fraudulently issued T-Cheks payable to herself, deposited them into her personal account, and then used the money for her own purposes.  Verbrugge disguised her theft by altering the weekly T-Chek report; she deleted her name and location and replaced it with names of Blachowske truck drivers and locations she knew to be associated with those truck drivers.  Because of the false information entered by her, Blachowske paid the T-Chek invoices.

“This investigation demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to assisting law enforcement partners with investigations of costly financial crimes,” said Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office which covers South Dakota. “As evidenced by this case, the FBI, South Dakota’s U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Brandon Police Department worked together to hold Ms. Verbrugge accountable for her actions, and recover the illegal gains. Along with our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to allocate expert resources to investigate and prosecute all those who take advantage of a position of trust to defraud American businesses.”

This case was investigated by the Brandon Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Hoffman prosecuted the case.

Verbrugge has been allowed to self-surrender to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service by January 5, 2021.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated December 22, 2020