Sellersburg woman accused of stealing $250K from company that owns KFC restaurants

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Authorities say 42-year-old Lesley Kruer of Sellersburg is facing federal charges for allegedly stealing more than $250,000 from a company that owns 28 Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Kentucky and Indiana.

Authorities say the thefts occurred over 10 years and that Kruer was the office manager for AJS Associates, Alice J. Schleicher, Inc. and Alice J. Schleicher, LLC. The company is located off Highway 60 in Sellersburg, behind a KFC restaurant.

Kruer was in charge of company's payroll and had access to bank accounts. Authorities say thefts began in July 2004 until June 2014. She is accused of giving herself unauthorized raises and abusing credit cards, pretending to make business expense purchases.

Officials say when Kruer pretended to make business expense purchases when in fact she was using the cards for personal items like a foot massager and paying her personal cell phone bill.

She had been with the company for 27 years.

"She advised that she needed money here and there and she also provided money for a traveling youth baseball league for her children. That was the reason for stealing money," said Det. Scottie Maples with the Clark County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities say Kruer overpaid vendors for services and goods they provided. When vendors reimbursed the company for the difference, she would allegedly keep the money. That's how they say her employers caught her.

"They received a notification from one of their banks where a $5,000 check had been placed into her personal account and this triggered the bank to contact the Schleicher family and in return they made an audit with an accountant and contacted us," said Det. Maples.

Employers conducted an audit and then reached out to the Clark County Sheriff's Office. The Secret Service also got involved, taking over the investigation.

"Stealing from corporate businesses affects us all," said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler. "It increases prices we pay at the counter and has a generally negative effect on our economy."

Kruer has been fired from her job. She was indicted and arrested this week and has now been released from jail on her own recognizance.  She faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

We stopped by her home to get her side of the story, but her family declined to comment.

"This was a breach of trust that was significant. They trusted this young lady for a long, long time," said Daniel Moore, the company's attorney.

Attorney Daniel Moore represents the Alice J. Schleicher company and says a civil suit has now been filed against Kruer. Two accounting services that were paid by the company during the years when the alleged thefts occurred are also named in the lawsuit: Melheiser Endres Tucker CPA and Deming Malong Livesay & Ostroff CPA. The lawsuit states that the companies "should have known, that monies Kruer was converting, taking and stealing from AJSA to pay herself, was in excess of her authorized and fixed compensation level."

He says Kruer's former employers are devastated.

"There was a lot of trust. They've known her for years. Had she perhaps had trouble and gone to them and talked to them straight up, it's very likely this family would have said 'let's see what we can do'," said Daniel Moore.

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