Ferrellgas accuses former employee of embezzling $3 million

Monday, April 14, 2008

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Ferrellgas Inc. has filed a lawsuit against a former employee, accusing him of embezzling at least $3 million from the propane gas company.

Scott J. Beeson, a former manager of Ferrellgas' fleet department at its office in Liberty, is accused in the civil lawsuit of creating fake invoices and pocketing about $3 million. Beeson, who was fired in March, had worked for the company for more than 10 years.

Beeson is also the founder of a Platte County-based student-mentorship program, Prominent Youth Inc., which nurtured and provided financial help to several student-organized businesses. The organization closed earlier this month.

Beeson is scheduled to appear in Platte County Circuit Court on Wednesday, when an order freezing his assets expires.

Scott L. Campbell, Beeson's lawyer, declined comment Monday.

"We conducted an internal audit and discovered that a significant amount of money was allegedly taken from us over a period of several years," said Scott Brockelmeyer, spokesman for the Overland Park, Kan.,-based company.

According to court documents in the petition filed in March, Ferrellgas' internal audit revealed that substantial payments were routed to Beeson's personal banking account or to what the documents describe as a nonprofit entity. Beeson is described in the documents as the founder, chief executive and a member of the entity's board, but the organization is not named in the documents.

No criminal charges are involved in the claim, but Brockelmeyer said Ferrellgas officials have contacted the FBI about the findings of their audit.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton, said Monday she could neither confirm nor deny any investigation.

Court documents said the audit revealed, among other things, that in his role as manager, Beeson created, organized, implemented and orchestrated a scheme that involved fraudulent and false vendor invoices.

According to the court filing, Beeson created false invoices that were paid by Ferrellgas and arranged to have those funds wired to his personal bank account.

As a result, Ferrellgas lost more than $3.5 million, of which at least $3 million was pocketed by Beeson, the court documents said.

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