March 15, 2019

Ex-employee admits embezzling over $133K from Stratford company

A former Fairfield resident is facing likely prison time for embezzling more than $133,000 from a company in Stratford where she worked.

Susanna Kurus, 43, of Garner, N.C., is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court on June 10. She pleaded guilty on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Donna Martinez in Hartford to one count of wire fraud.

While the charge carries a maximum of up to 20 years in prison, federal sentencing guidelines call for a term of 15 to 21 months, along with a fine of between $7,500 and $75,000.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, Kurus has agreed to pay restitution to her former employer in the amount of $133,870.

Thomas Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, declined to identify the Stratford company.

Kurus' defense attorney, Francis Lieto of the firm Goldman, Gruder & Woods, also refused to disclose the company's name.

"My client accepts full responsibility for her actions," Lieto said, in a prepared statement. "She and her family are blessed to put behind them the dark times which influenced her poor decision. Nevertheless, she is confident that the United States justice system will treat her fairly and is prepared to accept the sentence to be imposed upon her."

Kurus lived in Fairfield at the time of the theft, when she worked as accounting manager for a company which sells products throughout the country and world, court documents show.

The company has a financial accounting system to receive payments from customers for products they purchased. If these customers overpay or return a product, this accounting system adds a credit to their account, which could either be refunded or applied to a later purchase.

From around October 2014 to June 2017, Kurus used the company's financial accounting software to transfer these customer credits to at least six personal debit card accounts, and she then used the money for her personal benefit, prosecutors said. Kurus purposely associated each fraudulent transaction with either a real or fraudulent customer invoice.

Through this scheme, Kurus was able to steal about $133,870 over the two-and-a-half-year period, documents show.

Kurus is free on $200,000 bond pending her sentencing, which is scheduled to take place in front of U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shea.

The Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, U.S. Secret Service and Stratford Police Department collaborated on the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Miller is the prosecutor handling the case.

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at msullo@newhavenbiz.com

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