Former executive at prominent Twin Cities golf course indicted on embezzling charges

It's the oldest country club in Minnesota.

Minnesota's very first country club has had some trouble with the IRS in the recent past, including owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties for late tax filings.

And federal authorities say it's all because of the club's former chief accountant.

Julie Ann Lee, 53, was indicted Wednesday on charges of embezzling over a million dollars from the Town & Country Club (TCC) in St. Paul, where she worked as the financial controller for eight years.

According to a news release from the U.S. attorney of Minnesota, Lee spent that time funneling the club's money into her own pockets by cutting herself numerous fraudulent checks, and stealing large amounts of cash.

Prosecutors say she used this money "on things unrelated to TCC," including travel, home improvements, mortgage payments, and some personal luxuries as well – like a 2013 Dodge Charger, a pickup truck, a motorcycle, and "81 acres of land in northern Minnesota."

Lee is also accused of using TCC bank accounts to pay down about $600,000 in personal credit card debt. 

She then tried to cover her tracks "by taking advances on TCC’s line of credit at Alliance Bank," according to court documents. 

All this came at a steep cost to the golf club. The U.S. attorney says the embezzlement left TCC unable to make its quarterly payroll tax payments to the IRS. As a result of this, they had to pay more than $300,000 in interest and penalties to the government. 

Lee is charged with four counts of wire fraud, and six counts of filing false tax returns.

The club's reaction

The scheme effectively came to an end in December of 2016, when TCC smelled a rat and reported "possible embezzlement" to St. Paul police, the Pioneer Press reported.

Earlier that same month, the club sent its members a letter informing them of an investigation into "potentially significant financial improprieties" behind the scenes, the paper says.

Lee's employment with TCC came to an end around the same time, her LinkedIn says. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

According to its website, TCC was established as a clubhouse on Lake Como in 1887, and then in 1890, moved to its present location overlooking the Mississippi River near the Marshall Avenue Bridge.

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