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Press Release

Ontario County Woman Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud For Stealing More Than $750,000 From Her Employer

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

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Karen Owens, 55, of Phelps, NY, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. to wire fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was employed by Finger Lakes Conveyors, Inc. (FLC) as its Director of Finance from 2003 to 2017. Owens had authority to write and issue checks from FLC's banking account at Five Star Bank to FLC's vendors and creditors in order to pay legitimate business expenses. The defendant also had an obligation to record the details of each check she wrote and issued on behalf of FLC timely and accurately - including check date, check number, and payee - in FLC's QuickBooks accounting records.

Between June 2, 2011, and August 24, 2017, the defendant wrote and issued approximately 394 checks payable to herself from FLC's Five Star Bank account. Owens deposited the checks into an account which she owned and over which she had control. In addition, between August 30, 2010, and August 24, 2017, the defendant wrote and issued approximately 162 checks payable to J.P. Morgan Chase Bank from FLC's Five Star Bank account as payments on Chase Bank credit card accounts belonging to the defendant and her husband. In order to conceal some of the fraudulent and unauthorized checks, Owens failed accurately to record the checks in FLC's QuickBooks accounting record; instead, she falsely recorded the checks as payment for legitimate business expenses.

Owens wrote checks totaling more than $750,000.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Guyton.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 9, 2020, before Judge Geraci.

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Updated June 12, 2020

Financial Fraud