A former Chillicothe City Councilwoman and her husband were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday for filing a false income tax return by not claiming the income from a wire fraud scheme in which the wife embezzled nearly $4 million from her employer, Burdg, Dunham & Associates Construction Corp. in Hamilton, Mo.
Donna M. Preszler, 60, and her husband, Terrance W. Preszler, 63, both of Chillicothe, were charged in a 21-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City. The superseding indictment replaces a federal indictment that was returned on June 20, 2013, and adds the husband as a defendant in one count of making a false income tax return.
Donna Preszler was employed at Burdg, Dunham & Associates 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. The company 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. She 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.
Tuesday’s indictment alleges that Donna and Terrance Preszler failed to report the fraudulently obtained funds on their federal income tax returns for tax years 2007 through 2012. During that time, according to the indictment, the Preszlers should have paid $1,236,690 in taxes on their unreported fraudulent income from BDA.
For example, according to Tuesday’s indictment, the Preszlers claimed their income in 2012 was only $46,863. Including the embezzled funds, the indictment says, their income was actually $851,863 and they should have paid an additional $253,641 in taxes. The federal indictment charges Donna Preszler with six counts of wire fraud and 14 counts of money laundering.
Donna 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, Donna Preszler transferred approximately $3,912,000 in false and fictitious payments to herself and her family.
Donna Preszler also added false and fictitious overtime hours and overtime pay to her weekly payroll, the indictment says. She 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.
Donna 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 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, two residential lots, two 14kt diamond rings, 10 vehicles (a 2007 Ford Taurus, a 2007 Mazda CX-7, a 2011 Nissan Versa, a 2010 Nissan 370Z, 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.
Page 2 of 2 - Donna Preszler is a former Chillicothe city councilwoman, having been elected to the 3rd Ward council post in 2007. She served a two-year term, losing her bid for re-election to Tom Douglas in 2009. Her husband is currently employed by the city of Chillicothe.
Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, stated 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.