- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (AP) - A southeast Idaho man police say embezzled $1.6 million from the potato shipping company where he worked as the general manager is facing charges.

Russell Leonardson, 49, of Idaho Falls faces two counts of grand theft and 70 counts of forgery. He was booked into the Bingham County Jail on Friday.

Bingham County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Cody Brower said Leonardson embezzled about $820,000 from Idaho Select Inc. and another $780,000 from a subsidiary, Select Express LLC.

Idaho Select on Thursday filed a civil complaint seeking about $1.7 million the company says was stolen beginning in 2007. The lawsuit names Leonardson, his wife Melissa, and Leonardson’s company, Mobile Controller Inc., the Post Register reports (https://bit.ly/1z04aZD).

Idaho criminal statute only allows grand theft to be charged for the past five years, which is why the criminal case only lists $1.6 million while the civil case lists $1.7 million.

The civil complaint said the company hired a full-time accountant in July due to late or incomplete financial statements. Leonardson, who resigned in August, started working for the company in 1997.

The company said Leonardson was authorized to write checks and use an Idaho Select credit card.

“At times, the financial statements were late or incomplete,” the company said.

The company hired accounting firm Cooper Norman. The company said an investigation found that Leonardson used company money to pay himself, wife, family members and his company. The civil complaint said Leonardson concealed the transactions by using the names of regular company vendors to hide the payments.

The company also said in the complaint that Leonardson used the company credit card to buy cars, computers, food, plane tickets, a hot tub and fitness equipment.

Brower said each of the forgery counts stems from Leonardson altering a name.

Bond was set at $100,000. Leonardson was not listed on the Bingham County Jail roster on Monday.

Leonardson couldn’t be reached Monday, and it’s not clear if he has an attorney.

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