Woman pleads guilty to longterm theft that weakened the firm where she worked

Posted: January 27, 2013

Laura Rogers-Fisher lived the high life.

There were trips to the Bahamas, Las Vegas, and Mexico; expensive cars; World Series tickets; a suite at the Army-Navy game; home remodeling projects; and tuition paid to the Haverford School and Brown University for her son.

Her activities were documented in photos and in the gifts she spread around the office of Sho Aids, a small business in Sharon Hill.

On Friday, Rogers-Fisher pleaded guilty to theft, conspiracy, and forgery, and was sentenced to two to four years in state prison and five years' probation, and ordered to pay restitution for embezzling more than $660,000 from the company where she worked for 10 years and whose coworkers once considered her a "sister."

Sho Aids, which provides and sets up displays for corporate conventions around the country, and its employees were left to deal with the ripple effects of the thefts.

Two of the 50 employees were laid off, warehouses in New York and Atlanta were closed, work hours were cut, and some employees worked two or three jobs to make up for shortfalls, they said.

The company lost a $15 million contract when a client learned of Rogers-Fisher's criminal behavior. Its insurance carrier dropped them, its credit rating has suffered.

"We are struggling," said Kathy Moritz, a payroll manager.

Rogers-Fisher, 49, of Ridley Park, was responsible for the payroll for temporary employees who worked at the conventions. Between 2004 and 2010, she used the identity information from nine workers to create 650 checks made out to her longtime friend Robert C. Morgan.

To cover her tracks, she created fake work orders in Morgan's name and changed the names on the orders so that it appeared the employees did the work. She targeted only nonunion employees because there was less accountability.

Morgan cashed the checks, keeping a portion and giving Rogers-Fisher the rest.

The scheme unraveled when one of the nine employees received a call from the IRS concerning unreported income.

Morgan's case has been continued.

At her sentencing hearing, Rogers-Fisher's attorney argued for leniency.

"This is not a crime of greed," said Pierre LaTour. The money, he said, went to pay bills.

Rogers-Fisher apologized to the employees of Sho Aid and called her actions "a terrible lack of judgment that will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Contact Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149, mschaefer@phillynews.com or @MariSchaefer on Twitter.

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