Charges have been filed against a St. Joseph woman after federal authorities say she stole over half a million dollars from her employer.

The US Attorney’s Office charged 53-year-old Kris Fratzke with wire fraud and filing a false tax return on Friday, for alleged crimes that she committed in her role as Chief Financial Officer at Kalamazoo-based Flare Fittings. Investigators accuse Fratzke of creating a fake shell company called Mid American Fittings, with which she billed Flare Fittings for non-existent supplies to the tune of $540,000; all told, they say she issued 235 checks to the shell company from 2013 to 2019.

The tax fraud charge comes because authorities say Fratzke failed to report this money to the IRS. Federal law says that income obtained through illegal means is still required to be reported as income on your tax return.

If found guilty on the wire fraud charge, Fratzke faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of double the money defrauded, an order to pay restitution, and other sanctions. The false tax return charge carries up to three years in prison, $250,000 in fines, and other penalties.

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