LEBANON -- A Lebanon woman has admitted in federal court that she stole about $848,000 while she was employed -- as his secretary -- by the former owner of ENTEK Manufacturing Inc.
Rhonda M. Milligan, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on May 17 before Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.
Sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 12. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The plea agreement stipulates that the prosecution will recommend the “low end” of the sentencing range. In a press release on the case Wednesday, the government did not say what the minimum was.
The government said that in court, Milligan admitted to embezzling from her employer, ENTEK Manufacturing Inc., and the company’s president. In her plea she also waived her right to an indictment on the wire fraud charge and the allegations contained in the “information,” the charging document. The agreement calls on her to pay $848,156 in restitution.
Headquartered in Lebanon and with customers worldwide, Entek Manufacturing builds industrial extrusion systems and parts as well as entire manufacturing plants.
Milligan worked there from June 1997 to June 2011, according to the government.
Larry Keith, now the CEO of ENTEK, Thursday corrected and clarified some of the points in the government's charging document. The money, he said, was not taken from corporate funds but from the personal accounts of James Young, the company's former owner.
At the time of the thefts, Young was the CEO and Keith the president of Entek Manufacturing. Now Keith is the CEO after he and others bought out Young, who still works for the company.
According to the government, between December 2005 and July 2011, Milligan diverted $546,569 to pay her personal Chase Mileage Plus credit card. The government didn’t explain how the alleged offenses continued a month past her employment.
In addition, between December 2009 and July 2011, she diverted approximately $293,220 “by forging the president of Entek’s name on checks from an account used to pay for ENTEK company and employee expenses,” the government said. Actually, Keith explained, the president was a cosigner on Young's personal account and the money was diverted from payment of Young's personal expenses.
"Ms. Milligan did not have access to ENTEK Manufacturing's corporate bank accounts and no funds were diverted from company accounts," Keith said in a statement Thursday.
She was let go in late June 2011 after Keith became suspicious and started investigating. The FBI got involved because of the wire fraud and the size of the thefts, he said.
The government charged Milligan also took $13,700 from the money kept on a yacht for port expenses that required cash. The yacht, based somewhere on the East Coast, is owned by Young, Keith explained. "The company does not have a yacht and no company funds were involved in the case," Keith said.
The CEO said he had asked the FBI to correct some of the statements in the charging document but the document had already been submitted to the court. "However, ENTEK wants to make it clear that Ms. Milligan did not have access to ENTEK corporate accounts, which are only used for corporate and not personal expenses."
The charging information also lists an allegedly fraudulent $12,977 wire transfer by Milligan from an Oregon bank to one in Kentucky in August 2009.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott E. Bradford. Shaun S. McCrea of Eugene is Milligan’s lawyer.