Alabama woman sentenced to 2½ years in prison for embezzling $1.2 million from Ralls County fertilizer company

United States Attorney's Office with the Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey on Tuesday sentenced a woman to two and one-half years in prison for embezzling $1.2 million from an agricultural business in Ralls County, Mo.

Stephanie D. Carper, 51, also was ordered to repay the money she stole while exploiting her position as secretary of Liter Fertilizer and Chemical in Center, Mo. From September 2013 to September 2019, Carper admitted in her guilty plea that she filled in her own name on at least 44 checks that had been pre-signed by the company’s owner and his relatives. The checks were intended to be used to pay vendors. Carper then wrote in false explanations on bank deposit slips and the check registry to conceal her thefts.

Carper used the money to buy a 2015 Nissan Murano SUV, a 2016 Toyota Tundra pickup and a Caterpillar 247 skid loader. She also spent money on vacations to Alaska and elsewhere. She embezzled a total of $1,219,192. The vehicles and $31,000 in a bank account have been seized to help repay her debt.

A letter to Autrey on behalf of the victims said the family sold their company for a reduced amount because a co-founder was ill and profits appeared to be falling due to Carper’s thefts. Had the company books reflected their true profits, the family would have either kept the business to support the next generation or sold it for more money.

“The damage done is irreparable. All that (the founders) worked for was lost with the damage that Ms. Carper did,” the letter said.

“Stephanie Carper shamelessly abused the good nature, sympathy and trust of the owners of a family business in rural Missouri,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St. Louis Division. “After being hired as a secretary, she paid the owners back by robbing them blind.”

Carper, who moved to Eufaula, Ala., pleaded guilty in October to a felony bank fraud charge. She could have received up to 30 years in prison and as much as a $1 million fine.

The FBI investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman prosecuted the case.

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