Federal embezzlement charges filed against Prechtel

A St. Marys woman was indicted this week by a federal grand jury in Erie in Erie on charges of mail fraud and tax evasion, according to an announcement made Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney's western Pa. district office. As briefly reported in the Thursday, Feb. 10 edition of The Daily Press, Sandra Ann Prechtel, 49, of 531 Washington St., St. Marys, was charged with three felony counts of tax evasion and six felony counts of mail fraud and for the alleged embezzlement of almost $1 million from her employer, Abbott Furnace Co., between 2002 and 2007. During that time, Prechtel was in charge of accounting and payroll.According to the indictment, Prechtel stole more than $970,000 by writing additional paychecks to herself or padding direct deposit payments to her accounts for each payroll. The indictment alleges that Prechtel, in an effort to conceal embezzlement of the funds, made false entries in the company's general accounting ledgers. Additionally, while in charge of managing payroll deductions that would be credited to other Abbot employees' credit union accounts, she allegedly inflated the amount of funding that was to be deposited into her own credit union account and did not regularly deduct the amounts from her paychecks, as well as preparing false W-2 forms for herself that underreported her income from Abbot. The tax fraud charges were derived from Prechtel's alleged failure to report her actual income for 2004, 2005 and 2006 on her federal tax return forms. The six counts of mail fraud stemmed from Prechtel's alleged use of the United States Postal Service to send $19,885.72 of Abbot Furnace Co. funds to pay the balances she held on six credit card accounts, some held solely by her and the other held jointly with her "paramour," who was not identified by name in the indictment. If convicted, Prechtel faces a maximum sentence of 135 years in prison and a fine of $2,250,000, or both. She is scheduled to appear in District Court in Erie at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17 for an initial hearing.