Bookkeeper charged with stealing more than $525,000

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 5, 2002

An Albert Lea woman was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Monday for allegedly embezzling more than $525,000 from a local company.

Lorna J. Johnson, 45, was charged with mail fraud for sending Edwards Manufacturing Company checks to a bank in Nevada to embezzle the amount of money written on them.

According to the complaint, the $7,120 and $5,575.96 checks were sent in June and December of last year, respectively, through the U.S. Postal Service. Johnson allegedly tendered the checks directly to the bank to pay personal credit expenses. She also wrote company checks payable to herself, and then converted the proceeds to cashier’s checks and cash at a local bank, according to authorities. The investigation alleges that Johnson altered company records and removed information about the checks she issued to conceal the embezzlement.

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The FBI identified at least 93 company checks were issued for Johnson’s personal benefit between May 1995 and December 2001, and the total amount of the embezzlement is more than $528,000, the agency says.

Johnson was the office manager of the Edwards Manufacturing Company, in charge of finances, personnel and record-keeping. She was responsible for handling all of the company’s funds, and had primary use of the company’s check book.

Edwards Manufacturing Company, located in the North Aire Industrial Park, has produced steel fabrication equipment since 1875.