The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 7, 2011

Aurora woman pleads guilty to embezzling

From staff reports

A Lawrence County woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to mail fraud and filing false tax returns in a scheme to embezzle more than $250,000 from two employers.

Diana Kay Erickson, 46, of Aurora, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James England in federal court in Springfield.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri said in a news release that Erickson’s pleas amount to admissions that she embezzled $219,606 from Superior Lifts Inc., formerly of Aurora and Nixa, between September 2006 and April 2008, and $34,242 from Goolsby Rental Properties, of Wichita, Kan., between March and December of 2006.

Erickson was a bookkeeper for both companies, which have owners in common.

Superior Lifts, which sold automobile lifts and other products, had an office in Aurora in 2004 and moved to Nixa in 2009. It is no longer in business, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. When customers of the company mailed bank checks as payments, Erickson repeatedly took the checks and deposited them in her personal bank account, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The defendant also admitted filing false federal tax returns for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by failing to report the income she embezzled from the two businesses. The federal prosecutor’s office said the tax loss to the government was $57,801.

Erickson could be assessed a sentence of up to 23 years without parole, a fine up to $350,000 and a restitution order.

Her sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.