Court Guilty

MISSOULA—West Yellowstone resident Ann Bennett Hermanson was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $479,730 restitution for embezzling from her employer over a seven-year period, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Hermanson, 54, pleaded earlier to wire fraud.

Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

Prosecution evidence showed that Hermanson worked for 15 years as a para-professional in the West Yellowstone office of a regional accounting and business services company. As a para-professional, Hermanson had access to bank account information and signature stamps for the company’s customers.

Starting in 2009 and continuing until April 2016, Hermanson embezzled about $630,327.88 from several accounts belonging to the company’s customers. She has repaid some of the money.

The thefts were discovered in April 2016 when a customer reported irregularities in her business account to the company’s corporate office.

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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Racicot is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI.

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