Former Hermantown Lumber employee pleads guilty to theftAn Esko woman and former bookkeeper at Hermantown Lumber Company has pleaded guilty to making more than $35,000 in fraudulent financial transactions.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
A former bookkeeper at Hermantown Lumber has pleaded guilty to making more than $35,000 in fraudulent financial transactions.
Keri Lyn Wirtanen, 38, of Esko, was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday on one felony charge of theft of firearms or property valued over $35,000. However, on Friday she pleaded guilty in State District Court in Duluth. Judge John E. DeSanto scheduled sentencing for Dec. 10.
According to the criminal complaint:
In April 2011, Hermantown Lumber owner Gerald Sundquist notified police that the credit card manager of Western National Bank had alerted him about suspicious activity, with someone at Hermantown Lumber repeatedly processing credits to a credit card from a terminal at the company. The bank was unable to find any previous sales at Hermantown Lumber Co. charged to that card. Furthermore, some of the credits were made on Sundays, when the business was typically closed.
Sundquist provided police with a list of employees who had keys to the business, and said he suspected Wirtanen was either involved in the fraudulent credit card activity or was not doing her job, since all reports regarding credit card activity on the terminal went directly to her. Western National Bank determined that the credit card being credited was in the name of Wirtanen and her husband.
Further investigation of bookkeeping discrepancies found numerous payments or transfers from Hermantown Lumber’s online banking account to various credit cards and accounts in the names of Wirtanen and/or her husband. It was also found that Wirtanen apparently stole 67 purchase orders that she used to buy gasoline for her personal vehicle as well as to make other purchases.
Sundquist fired Wirtanen on April 13, 2011. She was charged Oct. 18, 2011.