OKLAHOMA CITY – A Yukon woman will serve 36 months in federal prison for stealing nearly half a million dollars from the Oklahoma Operating Engineers Welfare Plan, authorities said.
Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Oklahoma City said Susan Tyson, 51, worked as a bookkeeper for Zenith American Solutions, Inc.
“Operating engineers are people who work as heavy equipment operators in mechanics. They had a pension that essentially would pay out active employees’ health benefits and health expenses and retired employees as well,” assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Hale said. “Along with the legitimate invoice, she would include old invoices that had already been paid and she would doctor those invoices by putting in her own routing number, her own account number for her personal bank accounts.”
Tyson pleaded guilty to using her position to make 33 transfers between July 2014 and January 2017 and steal $467,352. She was convicted in a similar embezzlement case in 2000 when she served four months in federal prison.
“The company indicated that when she applied for the job, she was not forthright and upfront about her criminal history,” Hale said. “The company was really the victim in the case, the company she worked for.”
Along with jail time, she will also have to pay restitution and will be on supervised release for about three years after serving time.
With respect to the most recent case, Hale said the judge’s sentence was higher than recommended guidelines.
“As for as if it’s typical or atypical, I would say it’s not atypical but every case is different,” he told News 4. “I would say there’s a myriad of factors that the court takes into consideration.”
Lauri Skalski, a marketing manager for Zenith American Solutions, Inc. provided News 4 with a brief statement saying they believe justice has been served.
David Greenwell, a lead tax partner with RSM in Oklahoma City, said wire fraud is more than most people may think; however, only 10 percent of all cases are reported to police.
“Sometimes, if it’s a long-term employee, businesses are reluctant to go forward with prosecuting against that long-time employee and they’ll try to reach some kind of settlement,” Greenwell said. “The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that the total amount of fraud that is occurring in the United States is approximately 5 percent of the total revenue of businesses and that number exceeds $3 trillion.”
Greenwell said, no matter no how big or small a company is, they should all be aware of the risks.
“The most important thing for business owners to do is recognize that everybody is susceptible to internal fraud and they need to do an assessment on whether they have the types of controls in place to prevent that,” he said.
News 4 reached out to the attorneys for Tyson. We have not heard back yet.
The Bureau of Prisons will determine exactly where Tyson will be placed, according to Hale.