Bookkeeper sentenced to prison for scheming to steal from small Missouri trucking company

A Missouri woman has been sentenced to more than six years in prison after she pleaded guilty to charges related to a “far-reaching” scheme to defraud the trucking company that she worked for.

On May 27, 2021, 35 year old Missouri resident Christen Diane Schulte was sentenced to 80 months in prison in U.S. District Court. She previously pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering.

Schulte was formerly employed as a bookkeeper and office manager for a farm/trucking company based in New Haven, Missouri.

Authorities say that between January 2018 and February 2020, Schulte devised and executed a scheme that cost her trucking company employer and others approximately $727,000.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “Schulte fraudulently and without permission used the companies’ credit cards for personal expenditures. Schulte also fraudulently caused American Express and FirstBank to issue her new credit cards in the names of the companies. Schulte fraudulently charged more than 1,800 transactions totaling more than $532,000 on these credit cards. Schulte also forged the signatures of the owner and several employees of companies, on checks from several different bank accounts, including personal accounts of the employees. Several of these checks were made payable to Schulte, but some of them she made payable to the companies in order to conceal the lost funds related to her credit card scheme.”

Schulte also allegedly forged checks from bank account held by the Berger Levee District of Franklin County, which is a taxpayer funded levee district responsible for creating flood control projects in Franklin County, to pay companies in order to hide missing funds from her credit card scheme.

Prosecutors say that Schulte spent the proceeds from the scheme on jewelry, a travel trailer, vehicles, and vacation travel.    

“Christen Schulte was caught and sentenced to prison yet again for defrauding others who trusted her,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI St. Louis Division. “The victim employer uncovered the theft after an internal audit before Schulte caused irreparable damage to the business. This case highlights the value of having robust internal controls.”