Cargill accountant sentenced to 5 years for $3.1 million theft

An accountant who admitted to stealing $3.1 million from agribusiness giant Cargill, Inc. has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Diane Backis was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Albany to mail fraud and filing a false income tax return. She agreed to pay $3.5 million in restitution and faces two years of supervision after her release from prison.

Federal prosecutors say Backis, 51, not only diverted customer payments to her own accounts over 10 years, but caused at least $25 million in losses to the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company. She pleaded guilty last November.

Backis was an accounting department manager at Cargill's Albany grain elevators. Backis admitted she sent customers invoices for animal feed at prices far below what her employer had paid, causing the company millions in losses.

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