Man sentenced to 15 months for embezzlement

He helped take $260,000 from U.S. Foodservice

February 08, 2000|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A former employee of a Columbia-based food distributor was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in jail for his role in embezzling more than $260,000 from the company in 1998.

Patrick J. Belzner, 30, pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to steal the money with an accomplice, Christopher T. St. Ange, 49, of Reisterstown.

St. Ange pleaded guilty to the same charge and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 23.

Belzner, who took a job with U.S. Foodservice in July 1998, began embezzling the money in October 1998 -- after the company completed an internal review of accounting procedures, authorities said.

He managed transportation payments for the food-distribution giant and established a fake account using the name of a contractor to U.S. Foodservice. Belzner soon began requesting checks in large amounts for the fake company, intercepted them before they were mailed and gave them to St. Ange, authorities said.

St. Ange deposited the checks at area banks into checking accounts bearing his name and the fake company's name, prosecutors said.

A NationsBank employee grew suspicious of several large deposits -- one check was for $95,409.11 -- into relatively new accounts. The employee alerted officials at U.S. Foodservice, who started an investigation that quickly focused on Belzner.

Investigators discovered that Belzner had written eight checks to the fake company, totaling $262,627.13. In addition to the 15-month sentence, Howard County Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure ordered Belzner to repay the money with St. Ange.

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