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Ex-employee of Erie County Social Services Department who admitted stealing from credit union has prior felony fraud convictions

A former employee of the Erie County Social Services Department who last week admitted stealing more than $30,000 from the Erie County Employees Credit Union has three prior felony fraud convictions and served time in state prison for one of them.

Susan Elizabeth Johnson, 43, of Elma, was sentenced to two to four years in prison in 1995 for second-degree possession of a forged instrument involving forged checks, according to the Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.

Two years before that, she was convicted of attempted second-degree possession of a forged instrument and placed on probation.

She also had one other felony fraud conviction as well as a misdemeanor fraud conviction, prosecutors said. Details of her past convictions were not available.

Despite her criminal record, Johnson started working for Erie County in 2004 and was a senior examiner in the Social Services Department when she was fired last week after pleading guilty as charged to third-degree grand larceny in the latest case.

Johnson admitted taking the money from the credit union between May 22, 2014 and Jan. 26, 2015.

She was not an employee of the credit union, which is a nongovernment business.

County spokesman Peter J. Anderson declined to comment on the circumstances of Johnson’s 2004 hiring by the county since it occurred during a prior administration.

“But I can say that when this administration found out about her guilty plea last week, she was terminated,” Anderson said.

Investigator Daniel Brinkerhoff of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office said Johnson stole the money through an online scheme involving phony fund transfers to her credit card account at the credit union as well as withdrawals and charges against the account.

The investigation began in December after officials of the credit union alerted Sheriff Timothy B. Howard to suspicious activity in Johnson’s account.

Johnson faces up to seven years in prison when State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang sentences her on July 29.

Assistant District Attorney Candace K. Vogel prosecuted the case.