Second suspect charged in Fontana embezzlement case

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Kevin Hoffman
Thursday, November 3, 2011
— The Walworth County District Attorney’s Office is charging a second woman in a 3-year-old embezzlement case that cost a Fontana manufacturer nearly $1 million.

Joanne M. Anderson, 48, of Exeland is accused of receiving more than $400,000 embezzled by her friend Kari Sue Clark-Branton from Home Design Manufacturing Co.

Clark-Branton, 42, of Delavan was sentenced in 2009 to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to felony theft and 30 counts of forgery. She was ordered to repay the business more than $960,000 detectives said she stole while employed there.

Anderson had worked at Home Design until management claimed she made unauthorized purchases on a company credit card.

Clark-Branton started working at Home Design after Anderson recommended her, according to court records. She told police she was responsible for accounts payable and receivable and had access to the business checkbook.

Anderson was not charged in the case until Friday, more than three years after Clark-Branton was accused. The district attorney’s office could not be reached to comment on the delay in prosecution.

According to the criminal complaint:

Home Design owner Fred Sjoberg contacted detectives in March 2008 after his accountant discovered Clark-Branton embezzled more than $800,000 over a five-year period. Sjoberg said Clark-Branton previously admitted stealing money, embezzling more than $150,000 in the previous month alone.

Clark-Branton told detectives she forged between 500 and 1,000 checks. Several went to herself, and checks totaling $413,507 went to Blue Hills Lippitt Morgans, a horse business owned by Anderson. Clark-Brandon also admitted she overpaid herself in salary and payroll bonuses.

She said Anderson “did not specifically” know the checks were issued without permission.

Clark-Branton later claimed she had contact with Anderson, who was attempting to collect funds to repay Sjoberg. Anderson said she was doing “everything in her power” to sell the horses so that “we can get this money issue settled with you more quickly.”

Detectives found checks from Home Design to Blue Hills Lippitt Morgans were deposited into a bank account held by Anderson.

Anderson is free on a signature bond and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18.

Anderson is charged with party to receiving stolen property of more than $10,000. The felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Last updated: 6:59 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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