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Woman who spent over $21K in company money ordered to pay it back, write apology letter

A statue of Justice at the Townsend Justice Center, as seen through an exterior window of the building, on Center Street in Casper. (Greg Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — A Natrona County woman who pleaded guilty to spending over $21,000 of company money was ordered to pay back the full amount, do three years of supervised probation and write a letter of apology.

Denise Lynn Johnson, 58, originally faced eight felony and two misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of a credit card during her time as a bookkeeper for Inter-Mountain Pipe and Threading Company.

Unauthorized charges “for her own pleasure and benefit,” as Judge Catherine Wilking put it, included hotel stays, Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, vaping products, car washes and essential oil purchases.

The boss, Dana Bonander, told police that essential oils were not necessary for the job at Inter-Mountain, according to the Mills Police Department report.

At sentencing Thursday, Bonander told the court he was worried that the deal worked out with the state might allow other businesses to be victimized.

The state has recommended that Johnson’s conviction be deferred under first-time offender statutes as she has no other significant criminal history.

Bonander said that Johnson began abusing the company credit card the first month she got access to it, and the whole affair has forced a change in the family-owned company’s culture.

District Attorney Dan Itzen noted that Johnson had told presentence investigators she had an “addiction to spending.” Regarding his office’s recommendation for Johnson’s deferred conviction, Itzen said “it was a close call.”

Judge Wilking said that “close call” was “kind of an understatement in the Court’s mind.” 

“Crimes like this are extremely egregious because of the frequency with which they occur,” Wilking said. “It wasn’t just a one-time use of the credit card, it was time and again. And she’d been placed in a position of trust, which she violated every time.”

Inter-Mountain was able to recover $18,965.97 through insurance. Johnson is ordered to pay that back as well as the remaining $2,894 to the company.

Wilking also ordered Johnson to do 30 hours of community service a month.

Because Johnson declined to make a statement when invited to address the court Thursday, Wilking also ordered that Johnson compose “a sincere, well-thought-out apology” to the victim.