A North Kansas City, Missouri, woman was sentenced in federal court for embezzling from her employer in what was her fourth scheme to steal from a local company.
Tonya A. Topel, 42, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Beth Phillips to two years and nine months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Topel to pay $142,606 in restitution. Her sentence must run consecutively to Topel’s eight-year sentence imposed on April 16, 2018.
On Jan. 21, 2020, Topel pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Topel admitted that she embezzled $116,367 from her employer, SunSource Homes.
SunSource Homes Fraud
After pleading guilty to embezzling from two local companies, according to court documents, Topel was hired by SunSource. She immediately abused her position of trust as the office manager and accountant in order to unjustly enrich herself yet again. Topel began working for SunSource as the office manager and accountant in October 2016. She started stealing from them a month later and continued to embezzle from SunSource while she awaited sentencing for her conviction in another federal case in which she embezzled from another employer, Construction Benefits Audit Corporation (CBAC).
Topel made unauthorized purchases on company credit cards, totaling $47,665. She issued unauthorized checks to herself using one of the owner’s signature stamps, totaling $40,955. She claimed fraudulent expense reimbursements, totaling $19,713, which she added to her legitimate paychecks. Topel created $5,287 in unauthorized paychecks to herself and cashed an unauthorized check from SunSource for $2,745.
Topel used the money she embezzled from SunSource to travel to the Bahamas, Boston, Florida, and Arizona. She paid for retail purchases, restaurants, vehicles, and overdraft fees. She paid the attorney representing her in the prior federal case for embezzling from CBAC. She also presented a $20,000 check, which she fraudulently obtained from SunSource, to pay restitution in that earlier scheme to defraud CBAC. This caused management at SunSource to examine their accounting and books and discover Topel’s other thefts from their company.
Preferred Contracting Systems Fraud
Topel’s first fraud scheme occurred from October 2011 to January 2012, while Topel worked at Preferred Contracting Systems in Leawood, Kansas. In the course of those few months, she stole more than $24,000 from her employer. She was charged with five felony counts in April 2012 in Johnson County, Kansas.
Construction Benefits Audit Corporation Fraud
Topel’s second fraud scheme began she was hired as a senior auditor for CBAC, a non-profit corporation in Kansas City, Missouri, a few months later, on June 11, 2012. Topel began stealing from CBAC soon thereafter, starting on Oct. 18, 2012, while her criminal case was still pending in Kansas. She paid her criminal defense lawyer using CBAC’s credit card on Dec. 4, 2012, and she paid her restitution in Kansas on March 6, 2014, using a combination of legitimate and stolen money. She was then discharged early from probation in Kansas.
Topel continued to embezzle from CBAC, using five separate fraud schemes until she was caught in May 2016. Over the almost four years she embezzled from CBAC, Topel caused a loss of $295,677. After her embezzlement was discovered, Topel claimed she stole the money to pay for cancer treatments. In fact, Topel spent the money she embezzled on travel to the Bahamas, Hawaii, Dallas, and Boston; restaurants; entertainment such as Royals and Chiefs tickets, golf, and spas; a 2014 Ford Mustang, which she put in her daughter’s name after being caught in 2016; jewelry; and other personal spending such as clothing, dance classes, iPads, etc. Topel’s financial records showed no payments for medical treatments of any kind. Topel pleaded guilty on Sept. 18, 2017, to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft and was later sentenced to eight years in federal prison without parole.
U.S. Real Estate Equity Builder Fraud
Topel’s third fraud scheme occurred in between working for CBAC and SunSource. Topel worked at U.S. Real Estate Equity Builder (USREEB) from July 11, 2016, to Oct. 7, 2016. Topel has not been criminally charged for that fraud scheme. At the sentencing hearing for the SunSource fraud conviction, the court found by a preponderance of the evidence that Topel’s $26,238 theft from USREEB constitutes relevant conduct in determining her sentence.