- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A trucking company in the North Dakota oil patch is accusing a subcontractor of embezzling about $1.4 million over a four-year period. The defendants say the complaint is bogus and blame hard times in the energy industry.

Running Horse LLC, of New Town, has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the owners of Rodenbough Trucking and Excavating, Inc., or RTE, of Surrey. Court documents accuse Jessie Rodenbough and her husband, Matthew, of stealing the money through wire transfers, unauthorized checks and false reimbursement claims.

Matthew Rodenbough told The Associated Press that the relationship between the two companies didn’t become an issue until oil prices slumped. It’s not clear if the Rodenboughs have an attorney.

Court documents show that RTE has been leasing equipment to Running Horse since March 2012. Jessie Rodenbough was originally hired as an office manager and bookkeeper for Running Horse, according to the suit, but as the business began to rapidly increase her duties grew to include generating invoices to customers, writing checks, processing payments and paying bills.

“Over time, Rodenbough gained access and control of all of Running Horse’s financial accounts and bookkeeping records,” the suit says.

The suit accuses the defendants of creating a false spreadsheet to make unauthorized wire transfers appear like they were legitimate expenses. At least 46 wire transfers for nearly $1.3 million were made directly from Running Horse’s bank account to RTE, the suit says, and about $140,000 was obtained through at least 16 unauthorized checks.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland has issued a temporary restraining order against the defendants to prevent them from disposing of assets or destroying documents. A hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued is scheduled Thursday in Bismarck.

“At this early stage, Running Horse and clearly shown if a temporary restraining order is not issued, the defendants would likely liquidate RTE’s assets and abscond with the resulting funds,” Hovland said in his order.

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