This week, a Mississippi court sentenced a former dispatcher to the maximum penalty prison on embezzlement charges related to an elaborate Comchek fraud scheme against KLLM Transport Services LLC.
This week Steven Brooks Russell was sentenced to twenty years for Embezzlement in an amount greater than $25,000, according to the Madison and Rankin Counties Office of the District Attorney.
The investigation into the scheme began in February of 2017 when KLLM contacted Detective Lee Drake of the Richland Police Department about the suspicion of theft by long time employee Russell, who worked as a dispatcher.
Here’s how the Office of Attorney General describes the scheme:
“An unscheduled internal audit revealed that multiple Comchecks were being cashed at the Pilot Truck Stop on Gallatin Street in Jackson. KLLM records revealed these repair orders were for tractor and trailer repairs allegedly conducted all over the country. Despite the vendors being located throughout the United States, all the payments were cashed locally, thereby triggering automatic review. Each of these repair transactions were also opened and closed by Russell.
On February 8, 2017, KLLM informed Detective Drake that Russell had opened, closed, and issued a Comcheck shortly before lunch. Detective Drake went to the Pilot on Gallatin and found Russell’s vehicle. Upon entering the truck stop Drake saw Russell in the process of cashing a Comcheck. Drake videotaped Russell cashing a Comcheck and receiving the money.
Drake stopped Russell and found the receipt and money from the Comcheck in question. Drake located a post-it note with the Comcheck code in the Defendant’s pocket and additional blank Comchecks in the Defendant’s pocket.
Drake interviewed Russell who claimed he was acting as a middle man, cashing Comchecks for other drivers. During the 30-minutes interview, Russell made several statements that Drake began refuting. Russell ultimately invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.”
During the trial, prosecutors were able to produce documents showing that Russell had stolen more than $190,000. They also told the jury that Russell had a previous conviction for embezzling $50,000.
Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur explained the reasoning for the severe sentencing: “The maximum sentence is required to send the message to other criminals that businesses can operate safely in Rankin and Madison Counties. Russell failed to change his conduct after being given a second chance following his conviction in Hinds County and now he should be held accountable for his continued criminal behavior.”