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Donna Osowitt Steele
WHKY file photo

Woman Convicted Of Embezzling More Than $15 Million To Be Sentenced In Early November

A former Taylorsville resident convicted of embezzling over $15 million from her former company will be sentenced in Federal Court on November 3rd. 53-year-old Donna Osowitt Steele pleaded guilty to wire fraud in January. She faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000. She has already agreed to pay restitution by selling assets since her conviction.

Steele was CEO of TIGRA USA of Hickory. She was hired by the company in 1999 and was promoted to chief executive officer in 2015. Steele was fired on January 28, 2020. The German based company was defrauded of millions by Steele.

According to filed plea documents and admissions made by Steele in court in January, from at least 2013 to January 2020, the defendant executed an extensive scheme to defraud her employer, identified in court documents as Victim Company A, a privately held U.S. based subsidiary of a foreign company that manufactures carbide products. The owners of Victim Company A and its parent company reside overseas.

Court records show that Steele embezzled over $15 million from Victim Company A and used the money to support a business run by her and her family and to fund an extravagant lifestyle. As Steele admitted in court, she was employed by Victim Company A from 1999 to January 2020. Initially, Steele worked in the shipping department and was promoted over the next 20 years to various positions within the company, including to the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO), which she held until she was terminated in 2020.

In January, Steele sold the Alexander County property she used for a wedding venue known as Steele Farms for $1.5 million. Steele resided in Taylorsville at the time of her conviction but has since moved to Watauga County.

[Rick Gilbert of WACB contributed to this story]