Woman used fuel cards to siphon nearly $539,000 from Kentwood trucking firm, police say

Kentwood embezzlement

KENTWOOD, MICH. - The operations manager of a Kentwood trucking firm is accused of using corporate fuel cards to siphon nearly $539,000 from the business over a three-year period.

Mary Beth Knapp, 55, is charged with three counts of embezzlement of $100,000 or more. She’s expected to be in Kentwood District Court Friday for a preliminary hearing on felony charges that could put her in prison for up to 20 years.

A warrant charging Knapp was authorized in late June. The Kentwood woman is free on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond.

Investigators say the embezzlement occurred at D & M Logistics, Inc., a trucking company that hauls freight across the U.S.  Knapp served as operations manager at the company’s office on 44th Street SE near Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

One of her jobs as operations manager was to load Comdata cards, which drivers use at truck stops to buy fuel, Kentwood detective William Frederick wrote in a probable cause affidavit.

The card can be loaded with a specific dollar amount and is a popular way for truck drivers to purchase fuel at more than 160,000 locations, including two truck stops in West Michigan.

“Computer records showed that Knapp had loaded numerous Comdata cards with fraudulent information,’’ Frederick wrote. “Knapp would then take the fraudulent Comdata cards to truck stops to obtain cash from the cards.’’

Investigators conducted photo line-ups at two local truck stops and employees of the truck stops identified Knapp “as being the person who received cash from Comdata cards on a weekly basis throughout the year,’’ Frederick wrote.

Investigators say she siphoned funds from the trucking company for more than three years. It began on Jan. 1, 2014 and extended through Jan. 11, 2017, court records show.

In 2015, fraudulent Comdata records show a loss totaling nearly $216,000, court records show. Losses in 2014 topped $204,600 while losses in 2016 topped $118,000, court records show.

D & M Logistics is the second Kentwood trucking firm to grapple with significant financial losses in recent years due to suspected embezzlement.

A father and daughter were sentenced to prison earlier this year for embezzling from AA Transportation, forcing the business to close. The trucking company on Broadmoor Avenue SE lost more than $300,000 in 2015.

The pair siphoned money from AA Transportation through fraudulent credit card purchases and the submission of fraudulent invoices and transactions.

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