Former Bader Rutter CFO accused of embezzling $2.7 million from company’s corporate accounts

Last updated on May 6th, 2022 at 02:01 pm

The FBI is investigating claims of embezzlement and fraud against Hartford woman Vicki Berka, former chief financial officer at Milwaukee-based advertising and marketing firm Bader Rutter & Associates.

Berka, 61, is facing two charges of wire fraud and two charges of money laundering in a scheme that saw her allegedly use her position within the company and her bank login credentials to embezzle approximately $2.7 million over three years.

Berka was CFO of Bader Rutter from February 2006 to March 2018. The charges brought against her stem from incidents that occurred from July 2014 through September 2017.

According to a federal indictment filed against Berka, she was given access to the company’s Health Funding Account (HFA) and was the only person who could initiate and approve payments from the account.

As part of a scheme, Berka allegedly maintained a bank account in the name of “Furefriends, Inc.”, which is a former company that Berka owned and operated. The company dissolved in 2010 but its bank account, which Berka also controlled and operated, remained open. The indictment against Berka states she initiated several ACH transfers from Bader’s HFA to the Furefriends, Inc. bank account.

Berka allegedly made false entries in Bader’s general ledger that falsely represented Bader’s health care expenditures to be larger than they actually were in order to disguise the transfers she made. Four wire transfers are detailed in the indictment:

  • A May 17, 2017 transfer in the amount of $68,296.89
  • A June 13, 2017 transfer in the amount of $32,628.79
  • A July 31, 2017 transfer in the amount of $300,000
  • A Nov. 24, 2017 transfer in the amount of $255,589.65

If convicted of wire fraud, Berka would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count. If convicted of unlawful monetary transactions, Berka would face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count.

She is scheduled to make an initial appearance for the case on May 25.

Berka’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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