JOPLIN, Mo. — The former controller of Joplin, Mo.-based Frank Fletcher Ford changed her plea to guilty last week for embezzling approximately $88,000 from the store. And according to the plea agreement, the Joplin Police Department discovered through its investigation that the same employee embezzled about $13,000 from Credit Cars, another local car dealership.

Kathryn M. Stanton, who was charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, allegedly “wrote company checks to herself and her relatives without authorization from her employer, and forged the second authorizing signature on the check.” The alleged fraud occurred between September 2009 and September 2011 at Frank Fletcher Ford, according to the indictment.

Stayton was allegedly terminated from her position in September 2011 for reasons unrelated to the wire fraud charges, and an internal audit was initiated by her replacement. The audits revealed the discrepancies in Stayton’s financial reports.

According to the complaint, Stayton embezzled monies from the Ford dealership via various methods, according to the plea agreement, filed July 31. Stayton reportedly generated checks from the dealer’s bank account, which were made payable to herself and her mother’s shared account. She also allegedly stole cash by keeping payments from vendors and creating false entries for the dealership’s new and used inventory. She was also found to have stolen cash from customers intending to use the funds as a down payment.

Following her time with Fletcher Auto Group, Stayton began work with Credit Cars of Joplin, Mo. Through the investigation involving her previous employer, Stayton was found to have embezzled about $13,000 from Credit Cars in her latest controller position.

In the plea agreement, Special Agent Dan Allgeyer of the U.S. Secret Service claimed Stayton admitted to the charges and that she began embezzling from the Ford store ‘because of her out-of-control personal bills.’

—    Stephanie Forshee

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom