Manager Accused Of Stealing $2.7M From MO Company
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri company has filed a lawsuit alleging its former office manager stole nearly $2.7 million from the family-run business and that two banks should have caught the scheme.
Kansas City Screw Products Inc. is accusing Laura DeJong, of Liberty, of defrauding the company by forging checks and passing company checks between two banks, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/zJ62cn). The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Jackson County court, also names her husband, Craig DeJong, as knowing she was spending the money for their mutual benefit.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case, and the DeJongs did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.
The FBI questioned Laura DeJong before she was fired late last year. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Thursday that the agency would not comment on whether there is an investigation into the matter.
The lawsuit alleges that DeJong, the office manager and company bookkeeper, began the scheme as early as 2003 with a series of company checks payable to her and bearing a forged signature of the company's president. The company also is suing two banks, alleging they should have caught the alleged forgery and check kiting scheme.
The lawsuit seeks a nearly $2.7 million judgment against the DeJongs, more than $613,000 from Central Bank of Kansas City and more than $466,000 from UMB Bank. Neither bank would comment on the lawsuit.
The first word of trouble came from an anonymous call last November, according to the lawsuit. Within three weeks FBI special agents interviewed DeJong on the company's premises. She has since been fired.
"She was a trusted employee. She was darn near a member of the family," said Martin Meyers, an attorney representing the company, which makes precision screws and other parts from aluminum, brass, stainless steel, alloys and engineered plastics.
Meyers said the lawsuit would have sought more from the banks but for Missouri's Uniform Commercial Code. The law, adopted in all 50 states, prevents his client from recovering funds lost more than a year before the banks were notified of the scheme.
He said the $2.67 million loss was meaningful for the family-run business but not enough to impair its work or service to customers.