Bookkeeper pleads guilty to stealing $1 million from employer for vacations, new cars

A former bookkeeper at a Golden Valley, Minn. company pled guilty on Friday to stealing nearly $1 million from her employers of more than a decade.

Kimberly Kolhepp wiped tears from her eyes in court and told the judge her actions were sporadic and stupid, but her former coworkers believe she is only sorry she got caught for stealing nearly a million dollars from the a company she worked for.

Kolhepp plead guilty to 5 counts of theft by swindle on Friday and agreed to pay nearly a million dollars in restitution in exchange for 4 similar charges being dropped.

Prosecutors say Kolhepp, who was an accountant at Johnstone Supply #183 in Golden Valley, Minn., took out credit cards in her husband's name without his knowledge and then used money from the company bank account to pay them off.

"There were a lot of nice new vehicles the family had. [She] remodeled some things at her home [and] there was a trip to Ireland, Hawaii. Quite a few trips,” Shannon Peterson-Wanshura, one of Kolhepp’s former coworkers, said. 

Co-workers say Kohlhepp worked at the heating and air conditioning system wholesaler for 13 years. The thefts weren’t discovered until last February and even though the statute of limitations prevents her from being prosecuted for any crimes before 2010, her coworkers say the thefts started well before then.

"There are months when the team gets bonuses. We didn't get them for a long time. That was based on margins [and if] the margins aren't matching up and looking good, the employees aren't getting little extras so it did impact everyone, myself included," Peterson-Wanshura said.

As part of her plea deal, Kolhepp will spend 49 months behind bars. But, co-workers say the damage to their employer is already done.

"Another company may not have lasted through this,” Peterson-Wanshura said. “That's a lot of money for personal usage. My thoughts are thank goodness our doors are still open and I still have a job."

Kohlhepp's former employer and coworkers will get to give victim impact statements at her sentencing in March, when she will begin her four-year prison sentence.