Editors note: This article originally appeared on the front page of the Morgan County Citizen December 18, 2014. All articles concerning Melissa Shawn Stephens’ arrest, indictment and sentencing were unlawfully removed from the Morgan County Citizen website. A police report was filed with the Madison Police Department in October 2016 and an investigation is underway. It is a felony to hack into a website and a felony to tamper with content.
Grand Jury Indicts on Fraud, theft
Nearly $60,000 allegedly taken
By Patrick Yost
A Madison woman was indicted on 36 criminal counts ranging from financial transaction card fraud to theft by taking to identity fraud last week by a Morgan County Grand Jury.
Melissa Shawn Stephens, 29, Madison, was initially arrested on December 26, 2013, arrest warrants state, after she allegedly, in part, forged checks to herself, issued company credit cards to herself, had the company complete personal work for her without compensation and utilized company credit cards to make personal purchases. According to Morgan County Assistant District Attorney Allison Burleson, the state alleges that Stephens fraudulently took nearly $60,000 while she worked for a local business over a four-year period.
Arrest warrants state that Stephens was working as a bookkeeper for Prime Property LLC when, she allegedly fraudulently obtained several thousand dollars in work or merchandise. Warrants allege that Stephens used company credit cards to both purchase items at two BP gas stations along with Halloween decorations and gift cards from Lowe’s. Warrants also allege that Stephens used a company credit card to make purchases from Facebook and to buy a Tupperwear line. Those purchases alone totaled $3,789.07, warrants state and occurred between March 9, 2012 to September 13, 2013.
Warrants also allege that Stephens took 10 per-signed payroll checks from the business and made the checks out to herself for a total of $4,893.24. She also allegedly forged the name of a manager of Prime Property LLC for a $750 payroll check she made out to herself.
In total Stephens was indicted on 27 counts of financial transaction fraud, two counts of theft by taking, two counts of theft of services (where she allegedly had siding and plumbing work done by Prime Property employees without invoicing herself for the work) and four counts of Identity fraud (where she allegedly used the identity of Prime Property managers to establish credit accounts).
Court records indicate that Stephens also faces another 44 counts of financial transaction card fraud, another nine counts of theft by taking and an additional forgery in the first degree charge and a financial transaction card theft charge. She has not been indicted on the additional charges, however.