Janesville43.3°

Woman suspected of embezzling $800,000

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Ted Sullivan
October 21, 2008
— A Delavan woman accused of embezzling $800,000 from a home-building company wrote checks to herself and her friend to show horses, according to court documents.

Kari Sue Clark-Branton, 39, of W7904 R and D Townline Road, Delavan, remains free on a signature bond after getting charged with two counts of party to felony theft.


According to the criminal complaint:


Clark-Branton was responsible for accounts payable and receivable at Home Design Manufacturing in Walworth Township from 1992 to 2008. Fred P. Sjoberg III owns the company that builds custom homes.


Clark-Branton replaced Joanne Anderson, who left after being accused of making unauthorized charges on the company's credit card. Anderson recommended Clark-Branton as her replacement.


Sjoberg told police in March his accountant reviewed his business records back to 2003 and found more than $800,000 missing.


Sjoberg told police Clark-Branton admitted in February to stealing from the business, saying she stole $150,000 to $200,000.


An investigator interviewed the accountant, who said about $498,500 in checks were written to Clark-Branton from 2001 to 2008. About $413,500 in checks were written to Blue Hills Lippitt Morgans, a local horse business owned by Anderson.


The investigator in June interviewed Clark-Branton, who admitted to writing 500 to 1,000 unauthorized checks on the company's account. She confessed to forging the owner's signature and admitted manipulating the company's computer programs to hide checks.


Clark-Branton told the investigator she wrote checks to herself and to Blue Hills Lippitt Morgans. Clark-Branton said she wanted her friend to realize her lifelong dream of showing horses.


Clark-Branton received e-mails from Anderson listing the bills for the horse farm. She then wrote checks for some of the bills if she felt she wouldn't get caught.


Clark-Branton also confessed to overpaying herself in paychecks and bonuses.


In a February letter, Clark-Branton told her boss that Anderson was trying to get money to pay him back. Anderson was contacting family members. She also was trying to sell her horses.


Anderson has not been charged.


The Janesville Gazette was not able to reach Sjoberg for comment.


Clark-Branton is scheduled to be in court Wednesday, Nov. 5.


Sjoberg also has filed a civil lawsuit against Clark-Branton and Anderson, asking for money for his company's lost profits. The lawsuit accuses Clark-Branton and Anderson of conspiring to steal and embezzle money from his company.



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