Minnesota Woman Embezzles $2M from Friend’s Construction Business

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Updated Jul 12, 2024
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A Minnesota woman has been sentenced to 41 months in prison for stealing from her longtime friend’s family-owned construction business to cover her credit card debts, taxes and other personal expenses, including funding her husband’s off-road racing supply business and paying her son's mortgage.

Jennifer Lee Rath, 53, former financial controller of Hutchinson, Minnesota-based R&R Excavating, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota, Rath embezzled over $2 million from the highway construction company from August 2013 to December 2019.

Rath’s responsibilities at R&R Excavating included managing the company’s payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, company credit card and corporate bank account. According to reports, Rath used her “position of trust over a small business” to embezzle funds and convert them for her own use and benefit.

During the six-year scheme, Rath would cut checks that appeared to cover the company’s liabilities and manipulate them to cover her own expenses. She also processed electronic fund transfers from the company’s bank accounts to pay personal expenses and improperly charged personal expenses to company credit cards. To cover her tracks, Rath manipulated the company’s accounting software to conceal the money she stole, avoid detection, and prolong her fraud scheme.

Court reports say that because of Rath’s embezzlement, the company’s business and reputation suffered, employees lost their jobs, it could not pay vendors on time, and its credit suffered. 

Along with prison time, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger ordered Rath to serve three years of supervised release after her sentence and pay restitution her former employer $2,061,328.67 in restitution.

The FBI and the Hutchinson Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan L. Sing prosecuted it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Secord and Paralegal Specialist Jessica Scott handled the asset investigation and restitution enforcement.