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Woman loses appeal of embezzlement/wire fraud conviction

gavel judge moneyOXFORD — A federal appeals panel has upheld the eight-year sentence given a Mississippi woman for embezzlement by wire fraud from companies based in Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Kimberly Cray Burk also was ordered last year to pay $1.4 million restitution to Mid-South Maintenance Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee, and two Oklahoma companies run by its president and majority stockholder.

Burk had argued the sentence was too harsh, exceeding the federal guidelines for such cases.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied her appeal yesterday.

The panel said the sentence was proper because the federal court in Oxford found Burk had prior convictions for similar conduct, that Burk committed the new crime while on bond awaiting sentencing in an earlier fraud case and that her criminal conduct in this case continued over a prolonged period of time.

Burk, who worked in Mid-South’s payroll department from mid-September 2008 through April 2011, pleaded guilty this April to embezzling money by wire fraud from Mid-South in Memphis and in Pryor, Oklahoma, and from Worldwide Steel Works Inc. of Pryor.

Prosecutors dropped two of the three counts against her as part of a plea agreement.

The indictment said she used Paychex Inc., which handed direct payroll deposits for all three companies, to put money in her bank account and those of members of her family.

She and her son each got more than $117,000 and her son-in-law received $78,500, according to the indictment.

It said she diverted more than $70,000 to her parents’ bank account in Tennessee, but nearly $46,800 was sent to her in checks apparently signed by her mother.


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