A former office manager of an Indiana trucking company was sentenced to two years in federal prison for orchestrating an elaborate $382,000 money transfer scheme, according to prosecutors.
Tracy Cox, 52, of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on Wednesday. She had pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in November 2019. Cox must serve two years of supervised release once she finishes her prison sentence.
She must also repay nearly $382,000 she allegedly stole from her former employer, Corico Inc. of Gary, Indiana, over a seven-year period.
“When an employee takes advantage of an employer’s trust to steal from the employer, the consequences can have a trickle-down effect for the employer and the other employees, costing jobs and causing economic hardship,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II in a statement.
Cox admitted to approving more than 400 unauthorized money transfers for her personal use over a seven-year period, from May 2011 to July 2018. She reportedly did that by accessing the Comdata payment system the company used to pay truck drivers for fuel and cash advances.
She worked in Corico’s accounting department from 1992 to 2018. Cox started out in the company’s accounts payable department before being promoted to a fiduciary position as the office manager in 2016, according to court documents.
In her role as office manager, she oversaw and controlled Corico’s advance payment and reimbursement of fuel and trucking expenses conducted through Tennessee-based Comdata Inc., a provider of fleet management and electronic payment solutions.
According to her plea agreement, Cox admitted to contacting Comdata to authorize a series of check numbers for future use by Corico truck drivers. After obtaining the authorization codes from Comdata for the checks, she filled in the dollar amounts and made them payable to herself and then cashed them at three Pilot Flying J Travel Centers in Indiana.
On other occasions, she provided Pilot with authorization codes and received cash advances, court filings said.
Cox admitted to covering up the fraud by altering bank statements to hide the original account bank statements and receipts from Corico’s owner for several years, according to her plea agreement.
Her scheme was discovered in July 2018 after Comdata alerted Corico that Cox had collected several checks and cash advances over seven years.
When confronted, Cox “immediately left Corico and never returned,” according to court documents.
Cox is scheduled to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Jan. 5, 2021.