Man admits stealing $854,000 from St. Louis employer

ST. LOUIS — A Festus man has admitted to stealing more than $854,000 from his employer in a series of schemes since 2017.

Ryan S. Kent, 44, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a charge of wire fraud.

Investigators say Kent worked for a maintenance supervisor at a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in St. Louis, and falsely requested and received reimbursement for fictitious purchases and trips while employed. He was responsible for repairing broken equipment or purchasing new equipment.

In 2017, Kent bought supplies and equipment with his personal debit or credit card. According to his plea agreement, he then doctored the receipts to inflate the purchase amount before submitting them to his company.

Investigators say he would also submit completely fictitious invoices and seek reimbursement for expenses he never incurred traveling to pick up parts or equipment. He also bought supplies from Home Depot, returned them, and later demanded a refund from the company.

Kent reportedly used the money for personal bills and redid his garden. According to his plea deal, he also bought a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado, a 2021 Cadillac Escalade and drove to Las Vegas to gamble.

With the conviction, Kent could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. He will also be ordered to repay the money. Kent has a sentencing hearing scheduled for Nov. 9.