KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today (Wednesday) that a Chillicothe, Mo., woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a wire fraud scheme in which she embezzled nearly $4 million from her employer, Burdg, Dunham & Associates Construction Corp. in Hamilton, Mo.
Donna M. Preszler, 60, of Chillicothe, was charged in a 20-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury on June 20, 2013. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Preszler's arrest and initial court appearance.
Preszler was employed at Burdg, Dunham & Associates (BDA) from 2001 until June 2012, working as an accounting manager since 2004. BDA is a general contractor specializing in retail construction of malls, strip centers, family life centers, and other stand-alone projects. BDA serves customers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, primarily building for national retail organizations.
The indictment alleges that Preszler embezzled $3,912,000 in a wire fraud scheme from June 30, 2006 through June 15, 2012. Preszler allegedly used her employer's accounting software to create payroll data files that contained unauthorized false and fictitious payments to her bank accounts and others.
Preszler allegedly utilized her role as accounting manager to add false and fictitious non-taxable pay, such as expense reimbursements to herself. Over a six-year period, the indictment says, Preszler transferred approximately $3,912,000 in false and fictitious payments to herself and her family.
Preszler also added false and fictitious overtime hours and overtime pay to her weekly payroll, the indictment says. Preszler allegedly initiated approximately $76,000 in unauthorized overtime payments to herself from November 2004 through June 2006, which were subject to BDA withholding income taxes.
Preszler concealed her transfers by password protecting her payroll information, creating false and fictitious expense accounts and otherwise manipulating BDA's payroll and accounting records.
The federal indictment charges Preszler with six counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of money laundering.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Preszler to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged violations, including a money judgment of $3,912,000, her residence on a 3.44-acre tract in Chillicothe as well as three other residential properties, two 14kt diamond rings, 10 vehicles (a 2007 Ford Taurus, a 2007 Mazda CX-7, a 2011 Nissan Versa, a 2010 Nissan 370Z, a 2007 Nissan Altima, a 2011 Ford F150, a 2010 Ford F150, a 2010 Ford Escape, a 2012 Ford Explorer and a 2012 Nissan Rogue), three 2011 Yamaha ATVs and several bank accounts and funeral trust accounts. Most of those items have been seized by law enforcement agents.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jess E. Michaelsen. It was investigated by the FBI.