ST. LOUIS - A former Southeast Missouri woman was sentenced to prison for negotiating fraudulent checks and false tax returns in a $1.8 million embezzlement scheme.
Andrea Buchanan, 46, of Kansas City and formerly of Lilbourn, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1.8 million in U.S. Federal Court Thursday.
On May 27, Buchanan plead guilty to one felony count of passing forged securities and one felony count of making false statements on tax returns when she appeared for sentencing before U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber.
According to facts filed with the court at the time of the plea, Buchanan was employed in the payroll office at Plastene Supply Company in Portageville, which is a division of Seigel-Roberts Inc. As a payroll clerk, she was responsible for processing and issuing Plastene's weekly payroll. From 1998-2001, Buchanan randomly created more than 1,200 fraudulent vacation payroll checks payable to actual Plastene employees.
After creating the fraudulent checks, Buchanan then forged the employee's signature, signed her own name as the second endorsee and cashed the checks at a local bank. She was able to cash the checks without arousing the bank's suspicions under the pretense that she was cashing the checks as a favor to employees.
During the course of the scheme, Buchanan embezzled approximately $1.8 million from Plastene Supply. She also failed to report the embezzled funds as income on her income tax returns from 1998 through 2001, which resulted in a tax loss of $208,050. Buchanan was employed by Plastene Supply Company from 1978 to February 2002.
This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Postal Inspection Service.
"The prosecution of individuals who seek to profit by fraudulently filing income tax returns with the IRS to evade tax is a key to promoting fairness and equity in our tax system," said Al Patton, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. "It provides a deterrent effect to potential violators of tax laws and sends a message to the honest taxpaying citizens that IRS is focused on combating tax fraud."
"As we are seeing more and more with defendants in the federal system, Buchanan stole these funds to feed her gambling habit," U.S. Attorney James G. Martin, noted. "Her sentencing properly reflects the seriousness of her criminal conduct."