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Woman pleads guilty to stealing thousands from her former employer

Crime Watch

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IDAHO FALLS — A former manager of an Idaho Falls medical supply company has pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for embezzling thousands from a previous employer.

An investigation into Shana Erikson, 51, began when her employer, Southeast Idaho Sleep DME, discovered about $6,000 in fraudulent transactions. A further look into the finances at the medical practice uncovered more than $40,000 in questionable charges used for Erikson’s personal expenses, according to court documents.

Bonneville County prosecutors ultimately charged Erikson with two misdemeanor counts of theft by unauthorized control of a company’s funds. Erikson pleaded guilty and was ordered Monday to spend 15 days at the Bonneville County Jail, complete 15 days of house arrest, spend two years on probation and pay $22,659.10 in restitution.

An Idaho Falls Police detective spoke with the company’s owners, Jenni and Brad Talcott, in April 2020 who said they had hired Erikson — their friend and neighbor — to work for them for the past two years. The Talcotts said Erikson was not performing well with the bills and bookkeeping when they noticed the suspicious expenses.

“It was devastating for us.”

Some of the obvious charges Erikson made were to pay over $3,000 for her child’s dance classes. The Talcotts told detectives that Erikson, the regional director for Distinguished Young Women of Idaho, also used her Square card reader to donate from the company to the organization.

Additional charges included a $300 to Thunder Ridge High School to rent the auditorium, two electric scooters and other transactions. The Talcotts also said company funds were used to pay for gas, food, and hotels at the times and places of Erikson’s child’s dance competitions.

Investigators spoke with Erikson, who said the unauthorized personal expenses were honest mistakes in her bookkeeping. When confronted about the over $3,000 in charges for the dance classes, Erikson said her husband did a renovation at the office building and did a trade for the services without approval from her employer.

The Talcotts refute that statement, saying Erikson’s husband never performed renovation work.

Erikson gave more explanations for the various charges she often described as accidents. She also said when there were purchases during dance trips she combined them, with business trips her boss knew about but did not explicitly approve.

“It was devastating for us,” Jenni Talcott told “She (Erikson) was a very close friend of mine, and I was the one who encouraged my husband to hire her. Those feelings of betrayal that I felt were very devastating on a very personal level because I thought she was someone that had integrity.”

Through the process of bringing the case to prosecutors, the Taclotts said they spend over $6,000 on accounting fees to look at the books line by line. Jenni Talcott also spent hours digging into the accounts on her own to bring the case forward.

“You got to keep an eye on your money because it’s very tempting when people are in charge of a lot of money,” Brad Talcott said when giving advice to other business owners and medical professionals. “It’s very tempting to divert a little bit to their own personal needs and causes.”

“This tells the community that white-collar crime is not a high level of importance.”

Brad Talcott, a local neurologist, said doctors often find themselves vulnerable to embezzlement because they focus their attention on patient care and not always the bookkeeping. He said he knows other doctors who have had issues with thefts as well.

“I’ve gone through a cycle of mixed emotions throughout this whole journey,” Jenni Talcott said. “The fact is, she has to live with her choices, and I have to live with mine. … I can’t control how the legal system handled things … Would I have liked to see a felony? Yes. Would we have liked to see more restitution? Yes, but ultimately that is up to the legal system.”

The Talcotts said Bonneville County prosecutors discovered Erikson would not plead guilty to a felony and if she had been convicted of such offense as a first-time offender she would have likely gotten probation. On the other hand, they said if Erikson pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, she would likely get at least some time behind bars, in addition to the restitution. They said it wasn’t the ideal outcome.

“This tells the community that white-collar crime is not a high level of importance, which is why in my experience people aren’t prosecuting,” Jenni Talcott said. “It’s been hardly worth the time I have dealt with to find justice for this, but I’m glad there has been a consequence.”

Erikson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.