MISSOULA – A West Yellowstone woman admitted to embezzling more than a half million dollars from her employer over a seven-year period.
Ann Bennett Hermanson, 54, pleaded guilty to wire fraud during a hearing in Missoula.
According to a release from U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme’s office, Hermanson worked for 15 years as a para-professional in the West Yellowstone accounting office.
The business was not named in the release.
As a para-professional, Hermanson had access to bank account information and signature stamps for the company’s customers.
From 2009 until April 2016, Hermanson embezzled about $630,327.88 from several accounts belonging to the company’s customers.
The thefts were discovered in April 2016 when a customer reported irregularities in her business account to the company’s corporate office.
Prosecutors say Hermanson embezzled funds by writing checks to herself for personal credit card expenses and other bills and using customers’ signature stamps to sign the checks.
She also obtained a duplicate credit card for one victim’s account and used it to make unauthorized purchases.
When approached by a company employee in April 2016 about suspicious transactions, Hermanson admitted to embezzling money. She also admitted the thefts to an FBI agent and identified five business accounts from which she stole money.
She has repaid some of the money, but a restitution agreement requires Hermanson to pay $501,975.50.
Hermanson faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.
She has been released and sentencing is scheduled for April 12.