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Press Release

Galena Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $300,000 from Employer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Galena, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to embezzling more than $300,000 from her employer.

Sarah N. Underwood,35, of Galena, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to wire fraud, money laundering and failure to file a tax return.

According to today’s plea agreement, Underwood worked as the community manager for Fall Creek Condominium in Branson, Mo., from Jan. 15, 2007, until she was fired on Sept. 7, 2012, when her theft was discovered. Fall Creek and its owners association has 639 condominiums owned by individuals and under its association. Among other duties, Underwood was responsible for the book-keeping and financial affairs of Fall Creek, and was an authorized signatory on the checking accounts.

By pleading guilty today, Underwood admitted that she conducted numerous unauthorized electronic bank transfers and wrote $311,280 in unauthorized checks from the bank accounts of the Fall Creek Condominium Owner’s Association. Underwood deposited these checks into her bank accounts and spent the money on personal expenses and purchases.

For example, Underwood admitted that she spent $76,287 to purchase a Shelby Mustang, used $25,505 to purchase a condominium at Fall Creek and received two paychecks every two weeks from Fall Creek.

Underwood used a cashier’s check written on her employer’s bank account to purchase a 2012 Ford F350 Super Duty 4X4 Crew Cab Truck for $56,169. The truck was registered to Mstrmind Enterprises, a company owned by her and her boyfriend, which performed construction and rehabilitation work at Fall Creek. Underwood was responsible for running the business affairs of Mstrmind, while her boyfriend, who was also employed by Fall Creek, was the project manager and responsible for the actual construction or rehabilitation project. The embezzlement scheme included an $80,000 check written to Mstrmind that was purportedly payment for work performed, but Underwood could not justify the payment.

Underwood also admitted that she failed to file federal tax returns for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Under federal statutes, Underwood is subject to a sentence of up to 31 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $525,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.
Updated January 12, 2015