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Former manager of Kentucky beekeeping business sentenced in $500,000-plus theft

Lexington Herald-Leader
The former manager of a Kentucky beekeeping business who stole more than $500,000 has been sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison.

Jeremy Clay Guthrie also will owe restitution on the case.

Guthrie, 45, was manager of the Dadant & Sons outlet in Frankfort. The company, based in Illinois, says it is the oldest and largest provider of beekeeping supplies in the country. The Frankfort branch is one of 11 across the country.

He admitted that between October 2015 and late September 2017, he used a variety of methods to steal from the company.

Those included diverting credit card and debit card payments from Dadant to his own company, Guthries Naturals; giving customers unauthorized discounts if they paid in cash, then taking the money; and altering checks to switch the payee from Dadant to his company, according to the court record.

An altered check was a factor in Guthrie getting caught, according to one summary of the investigation filed in the court record.

A customer contacted Dadant after getting his bank statement and noticing that the payee on a check for $151.69 he had written to Dadant had been changed to Guthrie’s company, according to the document.

The customer reported a concern about the check to Dadant, and the company provided a copy to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, which initially investigated.

The customer later told police he had also talked with Guthrie about the situation, who told him that some teenage boys in the office had made a mistake with the check, and asked how he could correct the situation.

“You can’t, you have forged this check,” the customer responded, according to the report on the investigation.

Dadant fired Guthrie, and he ultimately pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud and two charges of taking part in filing false tax returns, for failing to disclose more than $325,000 income in 2016 and 2017.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, Guthrie said he developed a debilitating drug addiction after he fell off a horse and was prescribed opioid painkillers.

Guthrie’s drug problem “contributed to, and possibly fueled” his crimes, the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tashena Fannin, acknowledged in a sentencing memorandum.

Guthrie has since recommitted himself to his Christian faith, held down a job and made significant efforts to deal with his substance abuse, said his attorney, Philip C. Lawson.

Guthrie moved to Alabama after getting fired from Dadant.

Guthrie agrees he owes the Internal Revenue Service $72,770, according to the court record, but federal authorities and his attorney disagree on what he owes to Dadant in restitution.

Dadant claims a loss of $692,044, but Guthrie’s attorney has argued the amount should be $543,854, according to court documents.

Van Tatenhove, who sentenced Guthrie Monday, made a finding that the loss from Guthrie’s crimes was more than $550,000, but there has been no final order of restitution, according to a news release.

The IRS, the U.S. Secret Service and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigated the stolen money case.

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