Von gets 4 years in theft schemeST. PAUL — A former Cannon Falls community leader and volunteer was sentenced Wednesday to almost four years in prison for stealing nearly $740,000 from her former employer.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
ST. PAUL — A former Cannon Falls community leader and volunteer was sentenced Wednesday to almost four years in prison for stealing nearly $740,000 from her former employer.
Susan A. Von, 52, told a judge she was ready to face consequences for her actions, which she said embarrassed her children, ruined her ex-husband’s reputation and changed the way people in the small community of Cannon Falls looked at her.
“It never occurred to me that my actions would affect so many people in so many different ways,” said Von, a former Cannon Falls School Board member. “I never expected things to get so out of hand.”
As part of a deal with federal prosecutors, Von pleaded guilty in May to mail fraud, money laundering and income tax evasion.
Von used fraudulent checks from the small Cannon Falls fertilizer company, Sustane, to pay her own credit card bills over a six-year period starting in August 2000, according to court documents.
The company’s bookkeeper and finance manager, she then tweaked the business records to cover her trail.
Von will start her prison stay in February and must pay $688,327 in restitution to Sustane once she completes her sentence.
Blaize Holden, whose father owns Sustane, read a statement in court detailing the toll Von’s actions have taken on his family and the company’s employees.
“It’s been hard to go through, but I’m glad we stuck with it,” Holden said after the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in St. Paul. “Otherwise, this would have happened to somebody else somewhere else.”
Holden said his family and Sustane employees are still looking for a public apology from Von as well as restitution the business needs to bay pack large loans taken out to get the company back on its feet.
According to court records, Sustane officials have filed a civil suit against Von in Goodhue County District Court.
“She’ll be out of prison and we’ll still be dealing with this,” Holden said. “We fully expect complete restitution no matter how long it takes.”
Judge Paul Magnuson stuck to the high end of sentencing guidelines agreed to in the plea agreement. From a small town himself, Magnuson told Von he had no doubt she felt embarrassed and ashamed by her actions.
Still, he felt Von’s sentence should send a message to the public.
“You must pay the consequences … the rest of the world needs to know,” Magnuson told Von. “There has to be a deterrence (to stealing) because, quite frankly, it’s just too easy to do; it’s easy to do in a small town.”
Von read a written statement in court that included stories and details about her two children and how her criminal activity has changed her relationship with them.
“I’ve had 1 1?2 years to reflect on what I’ve done and will continue to do so for many years to come,” Von said.
“I look forward to the day I can return to my family and when I do, I know I’ll be a stronger person.”
Von’s ex-husband, David — a former senior vice president at First National Bank in Cannon Falls — was also indicted on several federal charges in connection with Susan Von’s case. A judge acquitted David Von in December on all charges.