St. Louis PR firm co-founder admits to stealing $800,000 in federal court

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – The co-founder of a St. Louis public relations firm pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday for stealing $800,000 from the company.

A spokesman from the U.S. Attorney’s office says Lynese Cargill, 51, was stealing money from the Common Ground Public Relations firm in Chesterfield beginning in 2008 to late March 2020.

Prosecutors say Cargill wrote unauthorized bank checks to herself adding up to almost $200,000. To cover her tracks, Cargill made false entries in account files.

Cargill applied and received two, million-dollar life insurance policies where she made the sole beneficiary her husband when it should have been Common Ground under the shareholder agreement.

Cargill used company credit cards to make almost 3,000 transactions for personal use totaling more than $350,000. She also used the Common Ground bank funds to pay her personal credit card bills equaling almost $39,000.

Another company co-founder, Denise Bentele, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the hearing that no clients or client billings were involved in the schemes.

Cargill pled guilty on three counts of wire fraud and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 6, 2021.

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