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December 26, 2013

Clark County woman faces federal charges for allegedly defrauding New Albany employer

U.S. attorney: Employee spent $114K from employer’s account

NEW ALBANY — A Marysville woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to fraudulently using her New Albany employer’s credit cards to ring up more than $100,000 in personal charges.

Jennifer D. Jekel, 27, a former accounts payable clerk with Hornblower Marine Services, located along Market Street, is accused of having First Third Bank issue new credit cards linked to her employer without the employer’s knowledge or consent between March and October 2011.

United States Attorney Joseph Hogsett was in New Albany on Thursday to announce the status of the federal case, including her expected appearance before a federal judge Friday afternoon.

“[Jekel] also allegedly had the bank increase the credit limits on exiting credit card account,” according to Hogsett. “The defendant then allegedly used the credit cards and account numbers to make personal purchases with a total value of approximately $114,000.”

Hogsett explained that questions of Jekel’s integrity were first raised by her employer after she claimed she would be returning from a trip late due to a delayed flight. He said the company determined the flight had not been delayed and that something was amiss. New Albany police were soon contacted, which led to a concerted investigation with U.S Secret Service.

“She was a trusted employee of this employer with no reason to believe she was doing anything, other than what she was responsible for doing,” Hogsett said. “She was invested with the authority to pay accounts, to pay bills.”

Following a grand jury convened in Evansville last week, Jekel has been indicted on access device fraud and four counts of wire fraud.

“This is a very serious charge,” Hogsett said. “It is well in excess, as alleged in the indictment, of $100,00, all of which was misappropriated by Ms. Jekel from her employer.”

Hogsett said that Jekel surrendered to an area law enforcement agency earlier in the day, but said he was not sure which agency had taken her into custody.

“There, obviously, have been ongoing conversations with Ms. Jekel and her legal counsel,” Hogsett said. “It is not as if somebody kicked her door in at 6 a.m. this morning. She, as I understand it, was given the opportunity to turn herself in, which she has done.”

Jailers at the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional complex in Jeffersonville and the Floyd County Jail reported Thursday that she was not an inmate of either facility.

Hogsett said the indictment follows a comprehensive investigation.

“[The law enforcement agencies] have worked diligently to bring Ms. Jekel to justice,” he said. “This really was a very important collaboration between federal and local law enforcement.”

Hogsett said Jekel, if found guilty, could be ordered to repay the funds, adding that she still has the majority of her working life ahead of her.

“Restitution is a normal order of the court for any defendant to be obligated and responsible for. Now, the reality is often times, in these cases of financial fraud, particularly when they start to get into the six-figure amount, the money has already been spent. It’s gone,” Hogsett said. “In many cases, the defendants are not in a position to make restitution.”

An initial hearing was set for 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, in the U.S Federal Courthouse on Spring Street in New Albany. A maximum penalty of the above charges would put Jekel behind bars for 100 years with federally monitored probation.

Hornblower Marine Services was contacted Thursday, but declined to comment on Jekel’s former employment with the company.

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