A Kirksville, Mo., man has pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $380,000 from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity in Columbia, Mo.
Burt Louis Beard, 62, of Kirksville, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017, to a federal information that charges him with bank fraud.
By pleading guilty, Beard admitted that he defrauded the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity of $380,502 during the period between March 2008 and August 2014.
Beard was the volunteer treasurer from 2000 to 2014. During that time, Beard was responsible for all financial duties related to maintaining the house, paying various vendors and collecting rent checks.
Beard wrote himself in excess of 150 checks. Beard claimed the checks to himself were for reimbursement of personal loans to SAE for direct payments he made to vendors. When asked for copies of his personal checks, Beard supplied copies of checks to fictitious vendors or existing vendors that did not have an account receivable for that amount or during that period. In cases where Beard supplied vendor invoices for his reimbursements, vendors said the invoices were not theirs.
SAE elected a new slate of officers for the fraternity in the fall of 2014. During the transition of financial responsibilities from Beard to the new treasurer, numerous red flags began to appear. SAE hired RGL Forensics, a forensic accounting company, to investigate Beard’s wrongdoing. Based on the documentation provided and reviewed, RGL calculated $380,502 as the entire loss from March 2008 through September 2014. The calculated loss consisted of $414,979 in checks issued to Beard from March 2008 through September 2014, less $34,477 in payments that Beard issued to or on behalf of SAE.
Under federal statutes, Beard is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the FBI.