Back to: Investigates
September 19, 2017 10:00 PM

Former Employee Who Committed Fraud Against Small Business Sentenced

Sioux Falls

We now know the outcome of a KELOLAND News investigation, at least part of it. 

In March, our investigates team showed you how $300,000 worth of fraud was perpetrated against Fireplace Professionals in Sioux Falls.

That came in the form of fake checks written on the business' account in Dallas.  The company later settled with the bank, with Fireplace Professionals losing $40,000 in the scheme. 

While the criminals in Texas have never been caught, at the same time all this was happening, a Fireplace Professionals employee, with a criminal history of fraud, had been hired.

You may remember that Cody George was hired at about the time Fireplace Professionals had ransomware on their computers, followed by thieves in Texas getting the company's account information.  

George, who had a conviction of forgery from 2013, was then charged with altering a $323 check from Fireplace Professionals to $1,323.  He was also charged with changing a customer's check to service a fireplace from $60 to $600. 

As part of a plea bargain last month, George plead guilty to the first charge while the second one was dropped.  George has agreed to pay restitution to the bank in both cases.

George, who previously admitted to KELOLAND Investigates he had a gambling addiction, was back in court to face his punishment. 

He told Judge Jon Sogn he had been in Keystone inpatient and outpatient treatment and was regularly attending AA meetings and getting counseling.  George says he has suffered for 20 years from mental illness and multiple addictions. 

George said in court, "What I did was absolutely heinous and disgusting and very selfish. I wake up every day with shame, remorse and guilt.  Tony Leggett and John Leggett, the whole Leggett family, was my family. I hope I can make amends to them sooner or later." 

While Tony Leggett was not in the courtroom today, he tells KELOLAND News that betrayal by an employee was a tough lesson for his family run business, who up until recently has always operated on a handshake and trust. 

The judge sentenced George to 60 days in jail and three years’ probation and ordered him not to drink or gamble or even set foot in a bar or casino. 

He also has to pay back $1600 to two banks for the forged checks. 

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