Jury Convicts Blue Springs Man of Money Laundering in Wife’s Embezzlement Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 02, 2011|
KANSAS CITY, MO—Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Blue Springs, Mo., man has been convicted by a federal jury of money laundering related to his wife’s embezzlement of nearly $825,000 from her Sugar Creek, Mo., employer.
Thomas D. Hutchens, 41, of Blue Springs, was found guilty of seven counts of money laundering.
Hutchens was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 20, 2011. Hutchens conducted financial transactions with money that his wife, Shanna M. Hutchens, had embezzled from Richardson Hauling, Inc., in Sugar Creek. Both Thomas and Shanna Hutchens were employed by Richardson Hauling and Thomas Hutchens also operated his own business.
Shanna Hutchens stole $824,394 from Richardson Hauling between September 2004 and October 2008. During that time, the couple filed joint tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and their adjusted gross income ranged from $1,886 to $62,731. Also during that time, $534,076 was deposited into a business bank account on which Thomas Hutchens was the sole signatory. Each of the seven counts of conviction charge Hutchens with making purchases from his business bank account with the embezzled funds. Those purchases included two Dodge Chargers, a Ford Excursion, a GMC Yukon Denali, a Caribbean cruise, a down payment on a house, and an IRS tax payment.
Shanna Hutchens pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering and was sentenced on Nov. 9, 2010, to 46 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered her to pay $818,987 in restitution.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City deliberated for about six hours on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner, ending a trial that began Monday, Nov. 28, 2011.
Shanna Hutchens worked as a bookkeeper for Richardson Hauling. She was hired in May 2004 and began stealing in September 2004, which continued until she was caught in October 2008. She made out company checks to her husband and to herself and forged the business owners’ signatures on the checks, which she deposited into various bank accounts or cashed.
Shanna Hutchens created 242 fraudulent checks that totaled $824,394.02. During the time that she was employed by Richardson Hauling, Hutchens earned approximately $11,000 per year for part-time employment.
Hutchens and her husband used the stolen money to buy a bigger house and spent $30,000 for professional interior decoration. They bought or leased a series of at least 20 automotive/water vehicles—16 during the embezzlement and four after being caught. They also paid for such items as cruises, Chiefs season tickets, a personal trainer, multiple trips to Las Vegas and a rental lake house in Warsaw, Mo.
Although they sold numerous vehicles and appliances on Craigslist and eBay after being caught, they spent that money on themselves rather than for restitution. For example, they paid for professionals to install Christmas lights on their house, paid for a family cruise to the Bahamas, continued to make payments on a 22-foot boat throughout 2010 and continued to pay $500 per month rent on a lake house in 2010.
Under federal statutes, Hutchens is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000, on each of the seven counts of money laundering. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Mahoney and Jess Michaelsen. It was investigated by the FBI and the Sugar Creek, Mo., Police Department.