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Ex-Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce employee pleads guilty to fraud

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Jeanie Kay Johnson, 47.

Jeanie Kay Johnson, 47.

Utah County Sheriff’s Office

AMERICAN FORK — The former officer manager for the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling from the chamber and trying to cover up the missing money.

Jeanie Kay Johnson, 47, of Spanish Fork, was accused last year of skimming more than $200,000 from the chamber's coffers in just under two years. She pleaded guilty Tuesday to communications fraud and theft, second-degree felonies, and obstructing justice, a third-degree felony.

The remaining 12 second-degree felony charges against Johnson — pattern of unlawful activity and 11 counts of communications fraud — were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

The three charges Johnson admitted to may be reduced at a sentencing on Sept. 20 if she makes a $15,000 restitution payment before then, and could be reduced a second time in three years if Johnson complies with all terms of her probation.

Prosecutors said Johnson was hired in 2005 as an office manager, receptionist and finance manager. Charges say she took the money between February 2011 and December 2013, hiding it by providing false reports to the chamber's board of directors and hiding bank documents.

Prosecutors claim she obtained the money through fraudulent reimbursements, unauthorized checks and false vacation payouts.

When discrepancies were discovered, Johnson went into the computer system and "deleted the financial information in an effort to hide her actions," according to the charges.

Johnson was fired when discrepancies were discovered about a year before charges were filed, according to a statement issued by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce when the case became public.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero