Friday, November 11, 2016

Former Innovate Mississippi CFO Tonya Klauser indicted for embezzlement.

A Madison County grand jury indicted former Innovate Mississippi CFO Tonya Klauser for three counts of embezzlement and false pretenses in September. The indictment states alleges Klauser used her American Express card from 2011 to 2013 to defraud Innovate Mississippi and also submitted 141 fraudulent expense reports for reimbursement.  The indictment is posted below.

Klauser pleaded guilty to a similar charge in U.S. District Court but received a hand massage for her penalty.  JJ reported in October 2015:

Former Innovate Mississippi CFO Tonya Klauser pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement in U.S. District Court on October 21, 2014.  The bill of information states she embezzled $395,484 from Innovate Mississippi.  The embezzlement occured from 2010 to 2013.  Judge Tom Lee sentenced her on September 3, 2015: 

30 days incarceration; 2 months halfway house; 3 years supervised release, with 6 months being home confinement; $598,143.38 restitution; $100 special assessment. Signed by District Judge Tom S. Lee on 9/10/2015 (ND) Earlier post

Judge Tom Lee ordered her to pay restitution of over $498,000. However, the losses may have been more than what was stated in the federal court files.  Innovate Mississippi sued its former accounting firm for allegedly failing to detect the fraud.  The complaint states:

For each year it prepared audits for Innovate, CRI issued "clean" audit reports in every material aspect.  At no time during its tenure did CRI ever raise a concern of any significance involving Innovate's management, internal contrnols, or financial practices.  CRI repeatedly informed Innovate's board of directors that it uncovered no material deficiencies...

Innovate replaced CRI with BKD, LLP as its new auditor for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2013.

Durins its initial assessment, BKD immediately discovered several issues of concern regarding Innovate's CFO, Tanya Klauser, and Innovate's internal controls.

BKD advised Innovate regarding its concerns and Innovate subsequently engaged BKD to conduct a full forensic investigation.

Through its forensic investigation, BDK discovered three types of unauthorized transactions perpetuated by Klauser:

1) unauthorized payments to Klauser's personal credit card.
2) unauthorized expense report charges
3) unauthorized charges to Innovate's credit card.

It was discovered that Klauser had embezzled more than $500,000 from Innovate during her employment.  The exact amount of Klauser's embezzlement has not been finally commputed but is believed to be approximately $1.0 million....

Indeed, BKD discovered Klauser's fraudulent activity in a matter of days whereas CRI gave no hint during its long engagement (six years) that either fraud was occurring.... Earlier post

The two parties apparently settled the case because it was dismissed with prejudice on October 10.

Kingfish note: Mr. Guest probably wouldn't have to prosecute this case if the U.S. Attorney had bothered to do his job. 


Anonymous said...

Husband is Billy Klauser, right? Billy Klauser at MDA? With his position and background, it sure seems like he should have noticed the family's finances improving by at least half a million dollars in such a short period of time.

Anonymous said...

What is/was "innovate Mississippi" and what is/was its function and where did the money come from???

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

How does she get tried twice for the same crime?

Anonymous said...

Is this "double jeopardy" - already found guilty by feds for same crime?

Is there more to this story - someone else complicit in the theft of funds?

Anonymous said...

9:57, because of the tech revolution/evolution states have entities that promote this sort of thing more so than say a state department of economic development. Of course, Mississippi's is underfunded but with people who actually accomplish things like Bill Rayburn and Joel Bomgar or John Palmer continuing to support this group, one can hope! I know the JJ vultures will pick this one apart but you asked. :)

Anonymous said...

A serious question for our real lawyer friends, not those of us that got our degree via opinion expression.

What keeps this from the double jeopardy issue? With a federal conviction for embezzlement, how can the state bring embezzlement charges as well?

Anonymous said...

Not sure what your beef with the US Attorneys Office is, they got a guilty plea and restitution.

Anonymous said...

Attn 10:58
This department must not be too underfunded, they didn't miss $500,000.00.

One Count - 30 Days To Serve said...

What was she spending all that money on? If the husband, a mere employee of the state, didn't realize how significantly their lifestyle had improved, then she was spending it elsewhere.

The woman needs to do some serious time. Forget the requirement that she pay restitution. That can't and won't happen! Our justice system needs to stop slapping these types of criminals on the hand. Send her up the damned river - The Sunflower River....all the way to Parchman.

Anonymous said...

Started as a state funded but privately managed and operated venture capital group. First ones to run it stole it blind (late 80's and early 90's). Fordice recreated it but still handed state money to private entity to give away as they saw fit.

Check out Bigger Pie that is always bitching about state incentives and see who/what it is and where it came from.

Recognizes The Smell Of Horse Shit.. said...

The link provided above doesn't work so I googled and found this bullshit enterprise. I don't see anything about funding other than an invitation to those who want to become sponsors.

Looks like nothing more than a so-called incubator for would be entrepreneurs. Haven't we seen enough of that crap over the past forty years? The old Coke Plant on 80 used to claim to do that, although they catered primarily to minorities and sucked on the grant-tit.

There's a nice list showing the logos of sponsors. I bet they're well pleased with this.

Anonymous said...

In the course of my career, I have seen several embezzlements. They weren't as large as this. But, they were large enough that the same question would have been asked: Didn't anyone notice the difference in lifestyle? Here's the answer, at least in my little corner of the world. These people just waste the money and really don't have any improvement in lifestyle to show for it. Gambling, drugs, etc. Ever met someone who would still live payday to payday even if they made a million dollars a year? It's sort of the same thing. After the theft is all over, they don't have the money, and they don't have anything to show for it. It's unbelievable. But, I have seen it happen over and over.

Anonymous said...

She submitted 141 false expense reports averaging over $3500.00 EACH in three years and NOBODY was suspicious until they changed audit firms. This is beyond comprehension. State auditor, if you are reading please take a look at this also. I would love to see a record of return on investments this money eating politically favored front produced. She is not the only one involved here. I see some pretty influential names on this companies board of directors. For all i'm concerned, they can let her skate like she apparently has before to get to the real thieves.

Anonymous said...

The crime can be prosecuted by both the State and the Feds. if the statutes of both govt. entities provide for similar offences.There may also be several adittional offences other than those prosecuted by the Feds. She should have come clean with her attorney and this could have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:57 just so you know, you and thousands of others like you is why MS is the poorest state in America and probably always will be. But hey, our state leaders sure as hell are going to make sure we pass laws that the courts overturn and that 6 people instead of 8 should be going to that conference. Woo hoo!! We's conservatives and don't like em commie libs!! Thanks, I know now why we're shrinking. Hell, you may even be a legislator!

Anonymous said...

Mike gets a real hard on flexing his prosecutorial guns.

Attorney Guy said...

Double jeopardy protects one from being twice tried and punished by the same sovereign. Thus the state can pursue violations of state law even if she has been tried for federal crimes by the federal government.

Anonymous said...

Innovate is FOR (Friends of establishment Republicans) employment agency.

Anonymous said...

1:48 - understand your cynicism, but go back to its roots. Was started not by Republicans, but by the Dems that controlled everything then, including not just the legislature but the Governor. Also got great funding from feds by mandate of Sen Stennis (D-MS). The Repubs killed that golden goose that had absolutely no restraints on it but had only a small number of state dollars but millions and millions of federal (you know, those that don't cost us taxpayers anything). But in replacement the Repubs created this monster that they 'claim' does not have any state funding. But that's a crap. Have to look hard to find it because it is well hidden but Innovate has had its share of real (read, MS) tax dollars included.

But they produced a nice slick magazine. (PS - for a little inside info, check out the masthead of those early issues)

Anonymous said...

It's disgusting that these white collar criminals do so little time. 30 days incarceration for half a million+? Crime pays pretty damn well considering that she will likely never pay restitution.

Anonymous said...

Whenever government gets into venture capital it's a license to steal or else take away normal risks from business. Wouldn't we all like the money gifted to us to start any business we could dream up? If it didn't work, no problem for us!

The citizens of this country have been sold the notion that " business" is the answer to all our problems without a notion of what business is or isn't.

As a result, all of us have become forced to be investors in businesses without any return on our investment!

If a business proposal has a high probability of success, it won't need our tax dollars to fund it. Private investors will be easy to find. But, why do that if taxpayers are so stupid about business that they can be made to invest without sharing in the profits ( unlike the private investor)or guaranteed a profit for the business by reducing the tax liability?

You want to know why you aren't doing well? You were dumb enough to be conned so these practices which were once illegal ( along with allowing banks to make high risk investments and Wall Street getting to hide risks in prospectuses ) were legislatively made legal under the guise of " de-regulation".

You want change? Start with restoring regulations that were on the books in 1958 in a judicious manner! Demand that interest rates be tied to the prime rate and credit rating again. Demand zero based budgeting for government at every level!

Hoping those that have been duping you are really Christians because they pray in public and tell you they believe in God just isn't working. PS. Christians can't " bear false witness" and not only are there no exceptions to that, but spreading false stories is specifically included and ignorance is no excuse. YOU have to be sure what you are saying is true. Makes it pretty hard for a politician to actually be a practicing Christian, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

if the statutory elements of both state and federal crimes are identical, double jeopardy. if different, no double jeopardy. Blockburger v. U.S.

Anonymous said...

What do people expect. They elect people who have no business experience, never worked a normal job, and depend on the govt. for everything.
Then they complain when these people make bad decisions. It should be easy to understand. You do not hire a auto mechanic that only has experience cleaning out a stable.

Anonymous said...

@ November 12, 2016 at 7:41 AM

Thank you 7:41am! Whew! Finally someone speaking with some got'damn god given sense around here!

These Tea'billy Phil Bryant and Tate Reeves Faux Christian supporters can't handle that kind of objective thought

Anonymous said...

11:15 has become as boring (with his repetitive tea-party bullshit) as the guy who posts the incessant 'yawn'. The yawner seems to have gone away. Maybe this pissant will as well.

Anonymous said...

8:06 should re-read Blockburger...not what the case says!

Anonymous said...

Not sure about double jeopardy, but what I want to know is why the board and the CEO don't face charges. No different than WCOM, did he know or did he not know? Doesn't matter, he should have known. The board is stacked with bankers, university presidents and a handful of business people. The entity has never produced one ounce of benefit to state taxpayers, except a weekly magazine article that takes up a half page to make a point. How did the board and CEO get through unscathed?

Anonymous said...

all involved tried to sweep this under the rug. Only a who's who list of board members kept this from being front page. Surprised KF didn't pursue harder. I mean a half mill is a half mill. .

Anonymous said...

5:07 - How does one 'try harder'? The story is what it is and you're reading it here.

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