Sheila Verbrugge, age 50, was indicted on August 17, 2020. She appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on August 25, 2020, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and up to $1,600 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that on beginning in approximately January 2010, and continuing through April 8, 2020, Verbrugge devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money and property from others by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, to unjustly enrich herself by obtaining fraudulent funds.
From approximately 2006 through on or about April 8, 2020, Verbrugge was the billing and payroll clerk for Blachowske Truck Line, Inc. (“Blachowske”), located in Brandon. In this capacity, her duties included managing Blachowske’s T-Chek account. T-Chek is a system used by Blachowske to pay for various job-related expenses incurred by Blachowske’s truck drivers, such as fuel and truck maintenance. Each week, T-Chek emailed an invoice to Blachowske for that week’s charges. Blachowske then paid the invoice electronically using an automated clearing house (“ACH”) payment.
On multiple occasions during the relevant time period, Verbrugge falsely and fraudulently issued T-Cheks payable to herself, deposited them into her personal bank account, and then used the funds for her own purposes. She disguised her theft by altering the weekly T-Chek report and deleting her name and location and replaced it with names of Blachowske truck drivers and locations she knew to be associated with those truck drivers. Because of the false information entered, Blachowske paid the T-Chek invoices.
The charges are merely accusations and Verbrugge is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Brandon Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Hoffman is prosecuting the case.