James F. Battin Federal Courthouse

James F. Battin Federal Courthouse

CASEY PAGE, Gazette Staff

A Shepherd man accused of scheming with the former bookkeeper of Midland Printing to steal about $170,000 denied federal fraud charges this week.

Jeremy James McCune, 42, pleaded not guilty to six counts of wire fraud in an indictment during an arraignment on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Billings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Rubich alleged that McCune conspired with Polly Annette Peden, 52, Midland Printing’s former bookkeeper, to embezzle money over a four-year period, from 2012 to 2016.

Peden pleaded guilty in April to five counts of wire fraud in the case and is to be sentenced on Nov. 1. She began work in 2007 as a bookkeeper.

McCune devised the scheme and convinced Peden to participate by having her write checks to herself and to McCune and forging the signatures of the owners, identified as L.J. and J.O., the indictment said.

Once McCune got the checks from Peden, he would deposit them in an account he controlled and use the money for himself, the indictment said.

Peden hid the missing money by altering Midland Printing’s check register, Rubich said.

The amount embezzled totaled about $170,693, the prosecutor said.

If convicted, McCune faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan released McCune from custody pending trial before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.

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Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.