Alcester woman charged with nearly $30K in wire fraud from employer

A federal indictment alleges the woman fraudulently paid herself more than $28,000 through 10 transactions across 34 months.

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SIOUX FALLS — An Alcester woman is facing federal charges after prosecutors say she deposited more than $28,000 in fraudulent payments to herself while working as a bookkeeper for a Nebraska business.

In a May 18 appearance at the U.S. District Courthouse in Sioux Falls, 56-year-old Michelle Warner pleaded not guilty to ten counts of wire fraud.

Prosecutors say that between June 2018 and April 2021, Warner was working as the head business administrator for Heartland Counseling Services (HCS) in South Sioux City, Neb. With her role came the responsibility for managing all bookkeeping and accounting activity, including processing payroll.

Over nearly three years, Warner is accused of placing at least 10 unauthorized transactions totaling $28,772.20 and causing HCS to remit payroll tax to the Internal Revenue Service without actually withholding funds from payroll. Court documents say the transactions ranged from cutting herself payroll checks and using a company card to transfer funds to a Square account, which were then transferred to her personal bank account.

A list of transactions included in the indictment show that it involved banks in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.


After Warner’s May 18 court appearance, she was released on bond pending trial, for which a date has not yet been set. If convicted, Warner faces up to 20 years in federal prison plus fines of up to $250,000 and any restitution ordered.

The charges come from a joint investigation conducted by the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office and the South Sioux City Police Department.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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