(STL.News) – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Jennifer Dwyer, 49, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, pled guilty today in federal court to one count of wire fraud involving the embezzlement of approximately $2.2 million over a ten-year period from her Lyndonville employer, Northeast Agriculture Sales, Inc. (“NEAG”). U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss accepted Dwyer’s guilty plea and ordered her released pending sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for February 11, 2020. At sentencing, Dwyer faces a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison. However, the sentence will be determined by the court with reference to the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
According to the Indictment, NEAG is a family business established in 1987 with locations in Lyndonville, Vermont and Maine. Dwyer was NEAG’s bookkeeper from approximately 1998 to 2017. As bookkeeper, her responsibilities included customer billing, handling company accounts, and managing NEAG’s payroll system. By pleading guilty, Dwyer admitted that between 2007 and 2017, she embezzled approximately $2,221,079.47 from NEAG through unauthorized electronic transfers of funds from NEAG’s payroll account to her personal checking account. Dwyer used the misappropriated funds on on-line gambling and to pay personal debts and expenses.
As part of her plea agreement with the government, Dwyer stipulated that she embezzled $2.2 million dollars from NEAG, and that in doing so she abused a position of trust that allowed her to commit and conceal the embezzlement. The plea agreement obligates Dwyer to pay restitution of approximately $2.2 million to NEAG, and to make specified lump-sum restitution payments prior to sentencing. The plea agreement provides that should Dwyer fail to make those payments by the time of sentencing, specified items of personal property will be subject to forfeiture. As part of her agreement with the government, Dwyer has consented to the repossession and sale of a camper that she partially paid for with embezzled funds. She has further agreed to restitution payments equaling the value of her interest in two pick-up trucks and a tractor. Finally, Dwyer has agreed to pay restitution corresponding to the value of her interest in her home and land in St. Johnsbury.
The government previously forfeited Dwyer’s 2015 GMC Sierra 2500 truck as proceeds of the embezzlement. By agreement with the government, Dwyer also sold a 2016 Sea-Doo watercraft and trailer. The proceeds of the sale will be applied to restitution at the time of sentencing.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan noted: “Embezzlement by its very nature is a betrayal of trust. This family-owned Northeast Kingdom small business suffered a devastating loss and deception by a person it had employed for years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to rectifying such egregious wrongs and combatting large-scale frauds.”
“Plain and simple, this case is about greed and mistrust,” said James Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Jennifer Dwyer chose to steal from the very people who gave her the opportunity to be a part of their family business. The FBI takes our responsibility very seriously to investigate and pursue those who commit fraud for personal gain and we will continue to work with our partners to hold them accountable.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation in this matter, with assistance from the Lyndonville Police Department.
This prosecution is being handled by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. Doyle. Jennifer Dwyer is represented by Natasha Sen, Esq. of Brandon.