August 13, 2014

Kansas Woman Pleads Guilty, Admits to Stealing $731,000 from Two Employers

KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Bucyrus, Kan., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to a bank fraud scheme in which she embezzled more than $543,000 from one employer, and admitted that she also stole more than $188,000 from a subsequent employer.

Susan Elise Prophet, 45, of Bucyrus, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

By pleading guilty today, Prophet admitted that she embezzled $543,034 from Dorfman Plumbing Supply Company in Kansas City, Mo., by forging her employer’s signature on 104 checks, 99 of which were written to herself. After her theft was discovered and she was fired by Dorfman, Prophet was hired as a bookkeeper at a Paoloa, Kan., nursing center. Prophet admitted that she also embezzled at least $188,460 from this employer.

Prophet worked as a bookkeeper for Dorfman from December 2012 until she was fired eight months later in August 2013. (The company has since been sold to Ferguson Enterprises, Inc., a national distributor of residential and commercial plumbing supplies.) Prophet was known to her employer as “Susan Morriss.” She touted that she was the wife of a federal law enforcement agent, which was true at or close to the time she was hired. In a separate and unrelated case, former ICE-Homeland Security Investigations agent Jeffrey Morriss pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents in regard to a more than $800,000 mortgage fraud scheme.

Prophet used the funds for her personal enrichment, purchasing trucks, a car, a motorcycle, travel, furniture, electronics, a gym membership, tattoos and other items. Prophet spent at least $130,424 on vehicle-related purchases, including a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Sport; a 2013 Harley Davidson FLTRX Road Glide motorcycle; a 2008 Ford Focus; a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe; and a 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer. Prophet withdrew at least $86,000 from her accounts and wrote nearly $21,000 in checks to herself or to cash. She used the embezzled funds to pay her rent and pay down her debts, and spent at least $15,096 at restaurants, $12,743 on travel, $6,703 on electronics, and $9,221 at Nebraska Furniture Mart.

Prophet took steps to conceal her scheme, such as altering the company’s financial records to show that vendors had been paid when, in fact, they had not been paid. When vendors attempted to collect, Prophet answered the calls and hid the claims from her employer. As vendors began to freeze the company’s accounts, Prophet created new checks and forged her employer’s name on the checks to pay the most critical invoices.

Prophet had worked as a bookkeeper for multiple companies beginning in Tennessee at least in 2002, and she sustained a felony conviction or convictions related to those positions. Upon her release from prison, Prophet applied to transfer her supervision from Tennessee to Kansas in 2009. Her release conditions prohibited her from any employment where she would have access to cash, checks or any account information of her employer. She was required to keep her parole officer continuously informed of her residence and employment, and to notify her employer of her felony convictions.

Prophet found a job posting online and was hired by Dorfman in November 2012 for $13.50 per hour. She did not disclose her criminal history or that she was prohibited by her supervision conditions from working as a bookkeeper. She did not inform her parole officer of her new employment. Prophet began embezzling from the company the very next month.

On Aug. 7, 2013, company owner Charles Dorfman met with Scott Rayburn, a representative of Ferguson Enterprises, regarding the company’s sale to Ferguson. Prior to the meeting, Rayburn sent an e-mail to Dorfman containing a list of all the outstanding invoices that needed to be satisfied before the completion of the sale. During the negotiation process, Rayburn thanked Dorfman for paying the outstanding invoices to Ferguson via an electronic funds transfer of $10,000. Dorfman had neither ordered nor authorized the transfer. The electronic authorization form had been filled out by Prophet (who signed Dorfman’s name). At the conclusion of the meeting, Dorfman contacted bank officials regarding the known forgeries committed by Prophet and she was fired.

A few months after being fired, on or about Oct. 10, 2013, Prophet obtained another bookkeeping job at North Point Skilled Nursing in Paola, Kan. She did not disclose her criminal history or that she was prohibited by her supervision conditions from working as a bookkeeper. She did not inform her parole officer of her new employment. Following her Feb. 28, 2014, arrest on the federal indictment, North Point discovered that Prophet had been embezzling from North Point as well, also by writing numerous checks to herself and altering the ledgers to conceal where the money actually went. The loss from this embezzlement was at least $188,460.

Under federal statutes, Prophet is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole for bank fraud, plus a consecutive sentence of two years in federal prison without parole for aggravated identity theft. Prophet must pay $732,495 in restitution to her former employers. Prophet must forfeit to the government the 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Sport, 2013 Harley Davidson FLTRX Road Glide motorcycle, 2008 Ford Focus, 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer as well as a money judgment of $543,034, all of which represents the proceeds obtained from the fraud scheme. 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. Attorney Daniel M. Nelson. It was investigated by the FBI and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.