Trouw sues former employee over alleged personal credit card usage

Kelly Holleran Aug. 10, 2012, 3:00am

A Highland business has filed suit against its former office manager, alleging she used credit cards to charge more than $300,000 worth of personal expenses on the company's account.

Trouw Nutrition alleges defendant Jeanne Reidelberger worked as its office manager for its Highland location. As part of her job duties, Reidelberger was expected to organize company sales meetings and events and was expected to incur substantial expenses on the corporate and employee American Express cards with which she was provided, according to the complaint filed Aug. 1 in Madison County Circuit Court.

In August 2011, however, Trouw's assistant controller Jean Korte noticed a charge for two Southwest Airlines plane tickets in Reidelberger's name. Reidelberger had not provided receipts for the tickets and indicated that they were confidential, the suit states.

When Korte followed up on the matter, Reidelberger promised to provide further documentation, the complaint says. However, she failed to do so, and instead told Korte that she had been unable to travel on the dates and had credit with Southwest for future business travel.

Suspicious, Korte called Southwest in an attempt to verify the credits, but was told that her company had none, Trouw claims.

According to the lawsuit, Korte again questioned Reidelberger, who broke down, saying she could no longer lie. The complaint alleges that Reidelberger confessed that she was experiencing financial difficulties and had used the plane tickets for personal travel for her and her husband.

When asked if she had charged any other personal expenses on the company's credit card, Reidelberger allegedly said that she had a list of such expenditures at her home, the suit states. However, when asked to provide the company with the list, Reidelberger denied possession of it, the complaint says.

Trouw decided to hire a forensics accountant to investigate the matter.

"For the period examined by the investigation, it was determined that Mrs. Reidelberger made $302,221.04 in unsubstantiated charges to the corporate and employee American Express cards issued to her," the suit states. "Some months she sought and was paid by Trouw over $10,000 as reimbursement for charges she never made, but which she falsely represented to Trouw were made for business expenses."

In its complaint, Trouw alleges fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, conversion and unjust enrichment against Reidelberger and her husband, Jerry Reidelberger.

It seeks actual and compensatory damages, plus punitive damages, attorney's fees, expenses, costs and other relief the court deems just.

It will be represented by James F. Bennett and Selena E. Gillham of Dowd Bennett in St. Louis.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-1184.

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