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Press Release

Jefferson City Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $65,000 from Employer

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

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Jefferson City, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to embezzling more than $65,000 from her employer.

Laura Lynn Winge, 47, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to a federal information that charges her with one count of bank fraud and one count of theft from an employee benefit plan.

Winge worked as a bookkeeper for Turk’s Construction, Inc., a residential construction company, and an affiliated company, Pools Unlimited, LLC, which builds in-ground swimming pools and spas, from July 2009 until she left employment on March 11, 2016. Company employees participated in an IRA plan that was administered by Winge.

By pleading guilty today, Winge admitted that she withheld $56,876 of the IRA plan deferrals from employees’ payroll from Jan. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2016, but never forwarded them to their individual accounts. Winge also admitted that she never forwarded the required employer matching contributions of $38,913 for the same time period. Instead, Winge kept those funds in the companies’ operating accounts, and used the employees’ deferrals for her own use and the use of another, including approximately $49,214 for her own personal benefit.

Winge’s theft consisted of $12,871 in unauthorized payroll checks to herself, $19,073 in unauthorized pay by inflating her hours worked, $5,447 in unauthorized spending on the companies’ credit card, and $11,822 in health insurance premiums for her dependents. Winge also admitted that she obtained $16,316 in services and products from the companies and a related company (Midwest Welding) for which she did not pay, but amended the invoices to show paid.  Winge’s theft from the companies totaled $65,531.

Under federal statutes, Winge is subject to a sentence of up to 35 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. 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 Lawrence E. Miller. It was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor – Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General, and the Cole County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Updated February 21, 2019

Topic
Financial Fraud