ALBANY – A Greene County woman pled guilty in federal court in Albany on Monday to stealing at least $3.1 million from Cargill, Inc. over a 10-year period and causing at least $25 million in losses.
Diane Backis, 50, of Athens was an accounting manager at Cargill, the country’s largest privately held corporation based in Minnesota.
Backis pled guilty to mail fraud and filing a false income tax return and faces up to 20 years in prison and three years of probation when sentenced in March of next year.
She was responsible for accounting functions related to Cargill’s grain operations in Albany, including creating customer contracts, generating and mailing invoices, and receiving and processing customer payments.
As part of her plea, Backis admitted that she defrauded Cargill while working in its Port of Albany facility, which receives, stores and sells grain products. She admitted in court that she stole hundreds of customer payments sent to Cargill totaling at least $3.1 million and deposited them into her personal bank accounts. She also regularly created fraudulent invoices and mailed them to Cargill customers directing them to send payment directly to her, which bypassed the company’s corporate controls.
US Attorney Richard Hartunian said Backis stole millions by diverting customer payments to her personal bank accounts and sold grain products for millions less than her employer paid, causing “enormous financial losses.”