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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wurm pleas guilty to aiding theft in Topeka, Kansas

A Jefferson County man who diverted more than $100,000 from Meriden State Bank by padding construction costs of a Topeka branch pleaded guilty Monday to bank embezzlement, U.S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom said.

Michael R. Wurm, 49, of Meriden, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of aiding and abetting theft by a bank officer, a charge stemming from helping former Meriden State Bank president Scott Becker take money from the bank. Grissom's office said Wurm admitted to helping Becker embezzle funds in 2001 and 2002.
Grissom said Wurm admitted in his plea that Becker convinced the bank's board to construct a branch on S.W. Fairlawn Road in Topeka, and that Becker and Wurm concealed from the board the fact that Becker would be serving as the undisclosed general contractor on the project. Prosecutors said Becker falsely represented to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that no insider would be involved or benefit from the construction of the branch in order to receive approval for the project.
To conceal his involvement, prosecutors said Becker had Wurm inflate billings from Louis Droge Construction to cover draw requests to the bank for construction of the branch. Becker then approved the draw requests, which totaled more than $385,000. Prosecutors said Wurm collected about $115,206 more from the bank than the amount Wurm paid to Droge Construction, with that money going to Becker.
Wurm is set for sentencing March 21. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million.
Co-defendant Scott Becker pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison. Co-defendant Stephanie R. Smith pleaded guilty and is set for sentencing Jan. 24.

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