Ohio Women Accused of Stealing $430K From Insurer

April 23, 2004

A former employee of Ohio-based Western and Southern Life Insurance Co. and her roommate are accused of stealing about $430,000 from the company in two months by writing and cashing company checks made out to phony vendors, authorities said.

The Associated Press reported that police said Laura D. Weber, 21, a Western and Southern clerk with access to company checking accounts, and roommate Jessica A. Sullivan-Griggs, 22, used the money to buy BMW cars at $40,000 apiece, spend $53,000 on a house for Sullivan-Griggs’ mother and pay $6,000 for a trip to New York City among other expenses from the spending spree in January and February.

The day the women were arrested, a man delivered to the lobby of the company headquarters in Cincinnati a $100,000 cashier’s check drawn on Sullivan-Griggs’ bank account, authorities said.

The two Cincinnati women are free on bond awaiting trial. They are to appear May 20 before Judge John West in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, when they may enter pleas or have a trial date set.

A county grand jury indicted both women March 22 on felony charges of aggravated theft and tampering with records. If convicted as charged, both women could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

“What happened was the employee was cutting checks to her roommate and to payees who did no business with Western & Southern,” county Prosecutor Michael Allen said.
The company fired Weber the day of her arrest, Jon Esther, a spokesman in the prosecutor’s office, said.

Western and Southern hopes to eventually recover most of the stolen money, company spokesman Herb Brown said. He declined to say how that would be done.

“We found out this employee was doing something wrong, and our auditing procedures enabled us to detect it very quickly and notify authorities,” Brown said.

Western and Southern owns or manages $28 billion in assets.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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