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Woman admits stealing $650K from her company

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By Lisa King

 A Henry County woman admitted in Federal Court on Tuesday that she stole nearly $650,000 from a lending company in Shelbyville that she managed.

Sandra Chilton, 46, of Turner’s Station, used her position with Pioneer Credit in Village Plaza to defraud the company of $648,225, she told U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves in Frankfort.

She pleaded guilty to one count of wiring fraud, which means she used interstate wiring transactions to steal the money.

Her attorney, James Earhart of Louisville, said Chilton admitted falsifying loan records of customers. “They [the thefts] took place over four years, from 2004 to 2008,” he said.

Chilton told the court that while she was manager of Pioneer Credit, which makes personal and commercial loans, she applied for and approved fake loan applications using the identities of Pioneer’s customers and kept the money for her own use.

Her plea agreement states that at first Chilton used the money she obtained to pay her gambling debts but later used money taken from additional loans to conceal the thefts from the customers whose identities she had used originally, making it appear as if they were making payments on those loans.

In all, 190 fraudulent loans were made.

Chilton hid the fraudulent loans in the books and records of Pioneer Credit by using the actual names and information of past, existing and potential new customers.

She used banks outside Kentucky to process the checks.

“The proceeds of the checks would then be paid to various financial institutions within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, including Commonwealth Bank of Shelbyville, Ky., at all times using the same Federal Reserve Banking System,” the plea agreement stated.

Officials of Pioneer Credit in Shelbyville did not respond immediately to messages left by The Sentinel-News.

The Shelbyville Police Department participated in the investigation before it was turned over to federal authorities. She was not arrested.

The maximum punishment for wiring fraud is not more than 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of not more than 3 years.

Her agreement stipulates that Chilton will not seek a sentence below the applicable advisory sentencing guidelines range. Federal courts use a complex sentencing structure to determine the actual terms.

Earhart said that Chilton probably is looking at from 3 to 4 years, with a similar period of supervised release after that. He added that she has no prior criminal record.

Chilton will be sentenced March 1 in U.S. District Court in Frankfort.