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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Former Spectrum Brands Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement, Money Laundering & Identity Theft

MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Shonn Northam, 47, Briggsville, Wis., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Madison to mail fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.  Northam faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the mail fraud and money laundering charges, and a mandatory consecutive two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft charge.


Northam was indicted on August 2, 2017.  The indictment alleged that Northam worked as a customer service representative at Spectrum Brands in Middleton, Wis., from February 2013 to November 14, 2014.  According to the indictment, Northam used his position to embezzle money by submitting false warranty claims and Spectrum issued checks based on these false warranty claims.  Northam falsely claimed the check payees were warranty claim customers with defective Spectrum products that caused damages and/or injury to the customers.  Northam used a portion of the fraud proceeds to fund U.S. Proud, an organization Northam started in 2013, that hosted beauty pageants for the LGBT community.


In some instances, Northam misused the identities and addresses of friends, family members, and US Proud beauty pageant participants to generate false warranty claim checks for himself.  He forged the endorsements and then deposited these checks into bank accounts under his control.  Northam did not have permission from these persons to use their names or addresses to generate false warranty claim checks from Spectrum, or to endorse their signatures on these checks.


At today’s plea hearing, Northam admitted he created false warranty claims as a way to embezzle money from Spectrum.  Northam admitted he took $280,644 from Spectrum and laundered these funds in an effort to conceal the nature and source of the proceeds.  Finally, Northam admitted he misused the identities of other persons in order to generate false warranty claim checks for himself.


Northam’s sentencing is scheduled for April 3, 2018, at 10:00 a.m., before Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson at the U.S. courthouse in Madison.


The charges against Northam were investigated by the Middleton Police Department and IRS Criminal Investigation.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.


Financial Fraud
Updated January 16, 2018