Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Former Innovate Mississippi CFO pleads guilty

Former Innovate Mississippi Chief Financial Officer Tonya Klauser pleaded guilty on June 12 to two counts of false pretenses.    The indictment accused her of filing false expense reports and embezzling from her employer from 2010 to 2013.  Innovate Mississippi is the former Mississippi Technology Alliance. The second count provides the gist of the case:

And, based upon a series of acts connected together and constituting parts of a common scheme and plan, TONYA KLAUSER, herein "KLAUSER," from on or about and between August 3, 2010, up to and including August 30, 2013, both dates being approximate and inclusive, in Madison County, Mississippi,  she being then and there the agent, servant and employee of the aforesaid Innovate Mississippi, had in her possession and under her control a certain American Express credit card numbered originally xxxx-xxxxx4-2001; which said number was changed in June of 2011 to xxxx-xxxxxx-22009, which said credit card was issued to "Tonya Klauser-Mississippi Technology
Alliance," with  the understanding between KLAUSER and Mississippi Technology Alliance that said card was to be used to make personal purchases by KLAUSER with American Express to be paid for said purchases by KLAUSER with her personal funds. Notwithstanding said agreement or understanding, KLAUSER made personal purchases with said card in an amount of more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), and instead of paying American Express for said charges with her personal funds, she caused said amount to be paid by Innovate Mississippi through direct checks and automated clearing house payments by means of a certain false pretense or representation, to-wit: by representing to Innovate Mississippi that the aforesaid charges were made for and on behalf of Innovate Mississippi. Said representation was known by KLAUSER to be false when made, was made with the intent that Innovate Mississippi rely upon said false representation and Innovate Mississippi did rely upon such false pretense in paying the aforesaid amounts, and KLAUSER thereby obtained payment for her purchases by such false and fraudulent pretense, with her intent then and there to cheat and defraud Innovate Mississippi, in violation of Miss. Code Ann.§97-19- 39 (1972, as amended);
 Attorney Matt Eichelberger represented Ms. Klauser in the Madison County prosecution.  She will be sentenced on August 21.

The U.S. Attorney took an earlier swing at prosecuting Ms. Klauser but let her off of the hook. JJ reported on October 15, 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." Earlier post.
 Innovate  Mississippi also sued its former accountants for failing to catch the fraud:

 t 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 case settled.

Kingfish note: Meanwhile, the Mississippi Business Journal goes a'begging for mo money and wonders why it must do so.  Hmmm...... the MBJ completely ignored this story and instead published puff pieces such as this one that appeared on the website today as a headline. The Clarion-Ledger has completely ignored it as well for reasons that are only known to the Gannett farm team.


Anonymous said...

She ripped off over a million bucks, and she'll get what...six months house arrest, three years probation, 100 hours of community service?

And you wonder why these people pull this stuff - a million bucks versus the chance of a couple months at home and a few days serving soup.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Gannett papers were lobbied to not publish these stories. Or, they underplayed it so they can keep the bogus Tony Jeff technology evangelism stories going.

Anonymous said...

Whoever consented to permit her to make personal charges on the card with the understanding that she would pay for the personal charges herself has absolutely no idea what they were doing managing. Further, whoever made that decision and then failed to review the charges and payments was a total idiot. "Hi. I work for an entity that gets a lot of taxpayer money. And I couldn't earn enough to eat if I had to obtain a real job."

Anonymous said...

Never heard of it.

Anonymous said...

Any relation? https://www.mississippi.org/home-page/about-mda/executive-team/billy-klauser/

Anonymous said...

Did any of her superiors (board, execs) have any accountability? What a worthless organization.

A million here, a million there. Who's counting? Is that anyway to mentor start up companies?

Anonymous said...

Has any company Innovate MS ever worked with made as much money as the CFO ran off with?

Anonymous said...

Put Innovate Mississippi in charge of Kior. Double negative makes it a positive. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Any relation? Haha. Like you don't know. Why do you think this has not been front page for years? They are in the special group. Should have been a lot worse for her. It pays to be part of the establishment

Anonymous said...

103.9 does not take state advertising money nor do they refer to Joe Nosef as their editor in chief. Supertalk, well that's a different story. They call the powers that be at 10:45 every morning.

Anonymous said...

Innovate Mississippi is a remake of a previous boondoggle that wasted more state (and federal) dollars without any basis than any failed MDA project including the infamous beef plant.

Institute for Technology Development - formed under Mabus and was the venerable John Stennis's favorite charity (using OTM, of course). Once the fed money dried up, and the state changed leaders with Fordice kicking Mabus's butt out of the big chair, they renamed ITD but didn't change its method of operation. Just the folks running it - filled with Fordice flunkies, claimed to not be operating off taxpayer dollars which of course has been proven to be a farsical commentary, and run as loosly as it was under its original 'management'.

No surprise that they would let this skimming continue to this level.

Anonymous said...

6:30pm, there is a relation. They are married, but for how much longer I cannot say. The people that work there are total jerks!

Mabus To The Woodshed for 200 said...

If it can't be blamed on Haley, at least blame it on Fordice. And there ya go!

Anonymous said...

"6:30pm, there is a relation. They are married, but for how much longer I cannot say."

And why should you? It's none of your damned business!

Anonymous said...

So her husband who works at MDA didn't notice an uptic in revenue on their personal accounts? BS! He previously worked at DOR.

Anonymous said...

"He previously worked at DOR."

Isn't that the same agency who has for twenty years, every year, announced to the press that checks would be mailed out five months late? And you equate that to some special expertise in watching money flow through an account?

Kingfish said...

It is now Friday. Has any of the media covered this?

Anonymous said...

Has the sentencing happened Kingfish? I didn't see a follow-up article.

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