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Southern Minnesota woman found guilty of federal fraud, identity theft and tax crimes

Kimberly Sue Peterson-Janovec was convicted following five-day trial. A family-owned construction company based in Rochester was one of her embezzlement victims.

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Kimberly Sue
Contributed / Sherburne County Jail
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MINNEAPOLIS — A Kenyon woman was found guilty by a U.S. District Court jury of two dozen charges for defrauding multiple companies of thousands of dollars and failing to report the money on her tax returns.

The U.S. Attorney's Office District of Minnesota announced Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 22, 2022, that 59-year-old Kimberly Sue Peterson-Janovec was found guilty by a jury on 13 counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of making and subscribing a false tax return, and three counts of failure to file individual tax returns.

The verdicts followed a five-day jury trial before U.S. District Court Chief Judge John R. Tunheim.

An indictment filed with the federal court in January 2022 states that Peterson-Janovec "exploited the trust of multiple employers to use her positions of employment to embezzle more than $700,000" over the course of more than 7 years.

The businesses included MI5, Inc., a Denny's franchise that owned and operated eight Denny's restaurants in Minnesota and Wisconsin and a family-owned company based in Rochester.

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The Dispatch publishes records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record.

At MI5 Inc., Peterson-Janovec served as the Director of Operations from April 2014 until July 2019 when the company discovered some of the fraudulent activity and she was terminated.

During her tenure with the company, Peterson-Janovec falsified records, created fake email accounts, and generated fake email traffic in which she impersonated employees of various purported vendors.

She received approximately $356,000 in bogus vendor payments and fraudulently issued payroll submissions using the identities of other people.

Even after she was terminated, Peterson-Janovec continued to send emails from purported vendors of MI5 requesting fraudulent outstanding payments as late as February 2020, according to court documents.

Following her termination, Peterson-Janovec found a job as a bookkeeper with a family-owned construction company in Rochester in early 2020. The company is not named in federal court documents.

Peterson-Janovec was eventually promoted to general manager. She lied about her work experience to get the job, according to the news release.

In as little as 18 months, Peterson-Janovec used the company's accounting software to issue herself approximately $350,000 in payments, which had been made to appear as if they were going to the company's vendors.

Peterson-Janovec has a prior federal fraud conviction from 1998, when she embezzled more than $950,000 from another former employer, according to the news release.

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A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

The case was the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Burnsville Police Department, and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Emily Cutts is the Post Bulletin's public safety reporter. She joined the Post Bulletin in July 2018 after stints in Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
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