By Jeff Lehr
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A former controller and manager of accounting at Frank Fletcher Ford in Joplin has been indicted in connection with the embezzlement of more than $88,000 from the dealership.
An indictment returned Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Springfield accuses Kathryn M. Stayton, 36, of Joplin, of 10 counts of wire fraud. She is accused of taking the money between September 2009 and September 2011 while employed as the dealership’s controller and manager of accounting.
The indictment alleges that she had access to the dealership’s blank check stock at the time and was an approved signer of checks for the business. She allegedly wrote 131 checks worth $46,664 either to herself or to members of her family, and deposited them in her own bank accounts.
She skirted Frank Fletcher Ford’s policy requiring two signatures on all checks by forging the second authorizing signature, according to the indictment.
Stayton also allegedly stole $41,365 in cash payments to the dealership and disguised the thefts through fraudulent entries in the dealership’s accounting records. The indictment states that the total loss to the business in unauthorized check payments and stolen cash payments was $88,030.
She apparently was able to escape notice for more than two years because of her position with Frank Fletcher Ford. The indictment states that her duties included approval of all invoices, deposits and disbursements; delivery of deposits to a bank; the recording of transactions in journals; preparation of monthly financial statements; and the handling of bank records.
The counts of wire fraud she is facing pertain to 10 of the 131 checks she is accused of making out to herself and depositing in her bank account. The checks were processed via interstate wire transactions, constituting a federal crime, according to the indictment.
ELECTRONIC DOCKET ENTRIES for U.S. District Court in Springfield indicate that Kathryn Stayton is in federal custody awaiting a court appearance and has been appointed a federal public defender.