When a Biscuit is a Puck, Cheating the Team Can Put One Out of Luck
Hockey players call the puck a “biscuit.” Borrowing more of hockey’s specialized language, one might describe Jennifer Durham, office manager of Rapid City Rush, a professional hockey team in South Dakota, as “a dirty deke who dangled” her way to $700,000 of ill-gotten team money. She pleaded guilty, in plain English rather than Hockey-ese, to wire fraud and tax evasion for embezzling $700,000 from the organization. Not only do her crimes expose her to the prospect of prison, but they also create a tax problem, an unpaid tax debt which will exist during, and perhaps after her incarceration.
While employed as the team’s office manager between 2010 and 2019, Durham falsified entries into accounting records to make it appear that the money she was stealing was spent on legitimate business expenses.
Durham paid herself $87,000 in mileage reimbursement and sales commissions, transferred nearly $285,000 from the team’s bank account to pay her American Express bill and transferred another $181,000 to her personal bank account. Durham also admitted to taking $214,971 in cash receipts to use for personal expenses and made payments totaling $7,712 to cover her family’s cell phone bill. She did not report the additional income to the IRS, causing a tax loss of $186,277 to the federal government.
The investigation began when new team owners discovered, “Inconsistencies and irregularities with regard to some bookkeeping handled by a single former employee.”
As part of the plea agreement, Durham must pay restitution to the team totaling $700,000 and the IRS $186,277. She faces up to 45 years in prison.