Monday, March 23, 2015

Virginia Woman Charged With Embezzling $469K From Local Architectural Firm

From The Virginian-Pilot on 3/21/2015:

A former employee of a prominent Virginia Beach architecture firm was arrested Thursday in connection with an embezzlement scheme that cost the company nearly a half-million dollars.
Katherine Albert-McNaughton, 36, of Virginia Beach was charged with one count of making a forged security and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions relating to criminally derived property.

According to the indictment, Albert-McNaughton worked for HBA Architecture & Interior Design. It alleges she forged the signature of one of her bosses on 83 checks between October 2011 and June 2014. The checks totaled $469,831.89 and ranged in value from $768 to $9,987.

The theft was revealed last year during an internal audit, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

Albert-McNaughton was responsible for handling the firm's accounts, making bank deposits and distributing petty cash and charitable contributions, the affidavit said. She also was required to make monthly reports to the firm's financial manager regarding discrepancies between the company's bank statements and general ledger.

The affidavit said the financial manager found a check missing and asked Albert-McNaughton for the statements. Albert-McNaughton became nervous and started crying, and claimed she had just received a call about a family member who had been in an accident. She said she needed to go to the hospital and left, the affidavit said.

HBA Architecture is a familiar name in Hampton Roads. The firm worked on the new Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, as well as the new library in the Churchland section of Portsmouth and that city's new courthouse. It also has worked for TowneBank, Wachovia, the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, the Virginia Port Authority and the Children's Museum of Virginia.

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