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June 9, 09

NEWS / Lake Ozark Woman Pleads Guilty to $441,000 Bank Fraud, Money Laundering Scheme

JEFFERSON CITY, MO—Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Lake Ozark, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to a scheme to defraud her former employer of more than $441,000.

Lorraine Jeanette Hess, 51, of Lake Ozark, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey this afternoon to a federal information that charges her with bank fraud and money laundering.

Hess was employed as a bookkeeper at SSL Enterprises from May 2006 through November 2007. Hess admitted that, primarily between July and October 2007, she made seven unauthorized wire transfers from an SSL Enterprises bank account to her personal bank account. She also admitted that, between August 2006 and October 2007, she created 18 unauthorized checks for which she either forged her employer’s name or used a signature stamp. All of the checks were made payable to Hess and she deposited them into her personal bank account. The total loss for this portion of the fraud was approximately $300,536.

Hess, who at the time was a day trader, conducted 12 wire transactions to move money from her personal account to her investment accounts. Those transactions, using the proceeds from her scheme, ranged from $11,000 to $30,000.

Hess’s employer had a personal credit card with Wachovia. Hess obtained 11 customer checks from Wachovia, and wrote the checks payable to herself, forging her employer’s signature on each check and depositing the checks into her personal checking account. Between August 2006 and March 2007, Hess deposited a total of $81,275 into her account.

SSL Enterprises had a business credit card account with American Express. Hess utilized the business credit card to charge various unauthorized personal expenses, including groceries, clothing, spa visits, furniture, Amazon.com purchases and electronic equipment. The total amount of unauthorized charges to American Express is $62,379.

By pleading guilty today, Hess admitted that the total amount of the fraud scheme was $441,170.

Under federal statutes, Hess is subject to a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine 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 Lawrence E. Miller. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Camden County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Tags: criminal investigation,


AnnaMaria Realbuto
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