Former Spectrum Brands Employee Sentenced to 42 Months For Stealing Over $280,000 from Company

MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Shonn Northam, 47, Briggsville, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James Peterson to 42 months in federal prison for mail fraud, money laundering and identity theft.  Northam pleaded guilty to these charges on January 16, 2018.  Judge Peterson also imposed a three-year term of supervised release as to the fraud and money laundering counts, and a one-year term of supervised release as to the identity theft count, to be served concurrently.  In addition, Judge Peterson ordered Northam to pay restitution of $280,644 to Spectrum Brands.

Northam worked as a customer service representative in the small appliance division at Spectrum Brands in Middleton, Wisconsin, from February 2013 to November 14, 2014.  Northam used his position to embezzle money by submitting false warranty claims, and Spectrum issued checks based on these false warranty claims.  Northam submitted false information on Spectrum vendor master forms and payment requisition forms, falsely claiming the check payees were warranty claim customers with defective Spectrum products that caused damages and/or injury to the customers.  He then forwarded the falsified forms to his supervisor for approval.  Northam used a portion of the fraud proceeds to fund U.S. Proud, an organization Northam started in 2013, that hosted beauty pageants for the LGBT community.

In some instances, Northam misused the identities and addresses of friends, family members, and US Proud beauty pageant participants to generate false warranty claim checks for himself.  He forged the endorsements and then deposited these checks into bank accounts under his control.  Northam did not have permission from these persons to use their names or addresses to generate false warranty claim checks from Spectrum, or to endorse their signatures on these checks.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Peterson noted that Northam’s bi-polar metal illness, while a mitigating factor, did not cause Northam to steal from his employer, and that Northam sustained a long pattern of deception and dishonesty that went on for years and spanned multiple employers.  The judge explained that Northam did not suffer a psychotic break or one-time episode of bad judgment.  Instead, Judge Peterson told Northam that he was dishonest and that he deceived his employer, his identity theft victims, and the participants in his US Proud beauty pageants.  According to the judge, such conduct requires punishment and a need to promote a respect for the law, as well as a specific deterrence message to Northam not to engage in this type of conduct in the future.

The charges against Northam were investigated by the Middleton Police Department and IRS Criminal Investigation.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.

Robert graduated from Brandman University, where he got his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Born in Massachusetts, Robert’s family moved to Kentucky in 2005 where he spent his college life and worked as an insurance agent for four years. Now is the founder and team leader of the website.

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