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Kansas Woman Sentenced for Bank Fraud, Must Forfeit Airplane

Wrote fake checks against her employer's account, now must give him the airplane crafted from a kit purchased with stolen money.

An Ottawa, Kan., woman was sentenced in federal court yesterday for a bank fraud scheme in which she embezzled from her employer.

Sandra L. Brandes, 42, of Ottawa, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays yesterday morning to 15 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Brandes, as stipulated in her plea agreement, to transfer title to her airplane to her former employer, the primary victim of her bank fraud scheme, and to pay $15,000 in restitution to his insurance company. The airplane is an RV-9A "experimental kit," fixed-wing, single-engine, two-seater aircraft. The value of the airplane is estimated between $70,000 and $80,000.

On Dec. 2, 2009, Brandes pleaded guilty to bank fraud. She admitted that, between March 30, 2002, and Dec. 27, 2005, she wrote false and fraudulent checks to herself on the business account of Dr. J. Daniel Fleming's dental practice in Kansas City, Mo., where she was employed. Brandes also admitted that she used a stamp with his signature, without his knowledge or authorization, for the signature on the checks. Brandes then deposited these checks into her personal bank account.

Brandes concealed her fraud by destroying the returned checks that were delivered with the monthly bank statement, and by falsifying or deleting entries in the business accounting software program.

Some of the proceeds that Brandes stole from her employer were used to purchase and construct the airplane from a kit. The total amount of the loss was $77,552. Under the terms of Brandes' plea agreement, if Fleming sells the plane for more than the amount of loss, Brandes is not entitled to recompense for any difference between the loss amount she had admitted and the market value that he receives.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel M. Nelson. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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