Leavenworth business owner pleads guilty to theft from employee benefit program

A Leavenworth business owner has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of theft from an employee benefit fund, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Brenda Wood, 48, Leavenworth, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, to one count of theft from an employee benefit program.

In her plea, she admitted the crime occurred while she was owner of PCI, a building cleaning service, and CDM, a construction and property management service. She set up a 401K plan, encouraged PCI and CDM employees to participate and began withholding employee contributions, according to the release from the office of Tom Beall, U.S. attorney for Kansas.

In 2011, PCI and CDM employees learned that no contributions had been deposited in their accounts. Wood falsely assured employees that their funds were being held in escrow. In fact, she used their contributions for her own benefit and without their permission, according to the release.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 24. She faces up to five years in federal prison and restitution.

A separate trial is set for Dec. 5 on 21 other counts including bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and committing a felony while on supervised release.