Hockey Team Office Manager Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $700K

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – A former office manager for the Rapid City Rush minor league hockey team has pleaded guilty to federal crimes related to embezzling $700,000 from the club.

42-year-old Jennifer Durham was initially charged with stealing $907,000 but new information lowered that figure to $700,000 and she officially pleaded guilty Thursday to tax evasion and two counts of wire fraud.

She has agreed to pay full restitution to the Rush and about $186,000 to the IRS as part of a plea deal, but still faces up to 20 years for each wire fraud count and five years for tax evasion.

Durham worked as the Rush’s office manager from 2008 through June 2019., where she was responsible for maintaining accounting records, creating financial reports, and recording and depositing cash receipts.

In the factual basis statement filed as part of the plea agreement, Durham admitted to an on-going series of theft starting 2011

She paid herself more than her salary, made wire transfers from the team’s account to pay her credit cards, transferred money into her personal accounts, took cash from the team for her personal use, and using team money to pay her cell phone bill.

The Rush struggled financially during Durham’s embezzlement with the situation so bad that Rapid City subsidized the team for a time by reducing fees for using Rushmore Plaza