judge court gavel (copy)
iStock

A former Spectrum Brands customer service representative pleaded guilty Tuesday to a scheme to steal money from Spectrum by submitting false warranty claims for non-existent defective products, some of which he used to fund an organization that hosted beauty pageants.

Shonn Northam, 46, of Briggsville, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft for the scheme, which he carried out from February 2013 to November 2014. Northam’s scheme cost the company $280,644, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Northam faces up to 20 years in prison on the mail fraud and money laundering convictions and a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft conviction. He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge James Peterson on April 3.

An indictment filed in August charged that Northam, while in a job where he evaluated warranty claims for defective products in Spectrum’s small appliance division, filed false information purportedly on behalf of customers reporting defective items. But the customers’ names were false and, in some instances, were the names of friends, family members and participants in beauty pageants.

Northam received and deposited the checks for the warranty claims.

Northam used part of the money to fund U.S. Proud, an organization he started in 2013 that hosted beauty pageants for the LGBT community.

Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.