Ex-Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce officer manager pleads guilty to fraud and other charges


bank-finance-sold-through-fake-documentsIn early 2015, fifteen felonies were  charged against former Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce office manager Jeanie Kay Johnson, who stood accused of embezzling more than $200,000.  Johnson was charged with one count of engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, one count of theft, 12 counts of communications fraud, and one count of obstructing justice, all second degree felonies with the exception of the obstruction of justice charge, which is a third-degree felony.

Johnson Falsified Financial Information to Hide Missing Money

According to prosecutors, Johnson was hired by as an office manager, receptionist, and finance manager by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2005.  Prosecutors said that Johnson thereafter embezzled more than $200,000 from the Chamber between February 2011 and December 2013 and “was able to hide the missing money for years by providing false financial information in the monthly financial reports for the Board of Directors.”

When Discrepancies Were Revealed, Johnson Deleted Financial Information to Hide Her Fraud

State prosecutors further alleged that, when any discrepancies were discovered in the Chamber’s financial reports, Johnson went into the Chamber’s computer system on December 10, 2013 and “deleted the financial information in an effort to hide her actions.”  Prosecutors said Johnson illegally obtained the large sum of money through fraudulent reimbursements, unauthorized checks, and false vacation payouts.

Johnson Fired Following Internal Investigation

The Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce fired Johnson in 2014 after an internal investigation purportedly revealed discrepancies in the Chamber’s financial records.  In a written statement, the Chamber said:

During the past year, much has been done to update the Chamber’s financial processes. With the additional help of outside experts, the Chamber implemented many new controls and processes to secure the Chamber’s financial accounts, information, communications and records.  The Chamber is confident its financial situation is sound and secure with the new controls in place to ensure the proper care and handling of funds contributed by its members and sponsors.  While this situation is unfortunate, the Chamber believes it is now stronger and better positioned to succeed as a result.

Johnson Pleads Guilty to Three Felonies

Now, more than 18 months after she was charged, Johnson has pleaded guilty.  As part of her guilty plea, Johnson agreed to plead guilty to one count of communications fraud, one count of theft, and one count of obstruction of justice.  The remaining 11 counts for communications fraud, as well as the charge for engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, were dismissed as part of Johnson’s plea deal.

Johnson’s Charges May be Reduced

Furthermore, the court has said Johnson’s charges may be reduced at sentencing on September 20th if Johnson makes a $15,000 restitution payment before sentencing.  Johnson’s charges may further be reduced in three years’ time if she complies with all of the terms of her probation.

* Photo Cred.: diplomafraud.com

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