A former University of Missouri employee has been sentenced to four years in federal prison, for embezzling $781,000 from the school over a 13-year period.

gavel thumbnailFederal prosecutors say 55-year-old Carla Rathmann of Mount Vernon used the embezzled money to gamble at casinos, to purchase expensive cars, to take vacations around the world, and to remodel her home and buy a hot tub. She also bought “high-end appliances”, according to prosecutors.

Federal prosecutors say she worked for the University of Missouri, as a Southwest Research Center administrative officer in Mount Vernon.  Her responsibilities included paying bills, payroll and various accounting duties.

Rathmann pleaded guilty in June to one count of mail fraud and one count of credit card fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s office says Rathmann embezzled the money by submitting fake and fraudulent invoices and bills to the University.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI were involved in the criminal investigation into Ms. Rathmann.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says the University “was instrumental” in detecting the fraud, initiating the investigation and assisting law enforcement. Federal prosecutors say she was fired from her position in September 2015.

The Southwest Research Center, which was established in 1959, addresses agricultural concerns of local area industries with research and education projects.

An internal audit investigation conducted by the UM System in June found that Rathmann’s embezzlement was a contributing factor to the Southwest Research Center’s $1 million deficit between fiscal years 2006 and 2014. The June audit investigation says that deficit “was also a key factor in the closure of the SWRC dairy operations.”