Monday, July 26, 2010

Massachusetts Woman Pleads Guilty In $200K Embezzlement Case

Sarah A. Richard, 58, of Shirley, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to charges she embezzled nearly $200,000 from Vitasoy USA Inc., where she had been employed as a bookkeeper handling accounts payable. According to prosecutors, Richard diverted $198,380.21 to "Imperial Cleaning" a company she and her husband controlled. The thefts allegedly occurred over a nearly five year period from November 2003 to October 2008. Richard reportedly altered at least 105 legitimate checks to make them payable to her cleaning company. Richards reportedly has blamed her actions on a terrible upbringing, a bad marriage and a gambling addiction. As part of her plea agreement, where she pleaded guilty to five counts of uttering and passing counterfeit securities, Richard will get only two years probation and must pay full restitution.

Read the story here and here.

Read the DOJ announcement of her guilty plea here.

Another light sentence, IMHO...

Utah Woman Sentenced In $223K Embezzlement Case

Jara Jane Wimmer, 33, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was sentenced to only 10 days in jail followed by six years probation and ordered to serve 200 hours of community service for embezzling some $233,000 from the University of Utah where she had been employed as an accountant. Judge William Barrett also ordered Wimmer to pay $123,708 in restitution to the University. While the University internal audit report showed Wimmer stole about $223,000, the statute of limitations did not allow for the court to include about $100,000 in losses. Prosecutors alleged that Wimmer began stealing from the University's theater department in 2001 and continued until April 2009, by issuing checks to herself, her husband and third party personal vendors as well as making unauthorized credit card charges. The audit report revealed that Wimmer used the stolen funds for vacations to Mexico, jewelry and clothing. She pleaded guilty to theft and forgery charges this past May. Wimmer and her husband, Jason Mark Koerbler, apparently attempted suicide in May 2009 at the Wendover Nugget Casino. She was not successful, but Koerbler was found dead which was ruled as a suicide.

Read the story here , here, here, here and here.

Interesting story, although I believe she got off lightly...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Virginia Woman Gets Probation In $200K Embezzlment Case

Nicole S. Drummond, of Norfolk, Virginia, was sentenced to five years probation for embezzling nearly $200,000 from Peters and White Construction, where she had been employed as a bookkeeper, handling payroll. Drummond was convicted this past April of diverting company funds by direct-deposit into her personal account. She was also ordered to pay $209,000 in restitution.

Read the story here.

California Woman Gets Probation In $100K Embezzlement Case

Laura Dee Springer, 48, of Atwater, California, was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to charges she embezzled some $100,000 from the medical office of Dr. Adam Sortini, a local audiologist where she had been employed. As part of the plea agreement, Springer must also make full restitution. According to prosecutors, Springer forged Sortini's name on checks to pay personal bills and expenses. Springer was originally arrested in August 2008.

Read the story here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Former Purchasing Director In New York Accused Of Embezzling $700K

William R. Baker, 58, of Black River, New York, was indicted on charges he embezzled more than $700,000 from Knowlton Specialty Papers, aka Knowlton Technologies, where he had been employed as purchasing manager. According to authorities, over a six year period, from July 2003 through October 2009, Baker created and sent phony invoices for merchandise that was never delivered to Knowlton. He has been indicted on 238 counts, including one count of second-degree grand larceny, one count of criminal possession of stolen property and 236 counts of falsifying business records.

Read the story here and here.

Update (8/2/11): Baker was sentenced to one to three years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of almost $800,000.

Michigan Woman Sentenced For Embezzling Nearly $200K From Two Organizations

Christina Zordel, 50, of South Haven, Michigan, was sentenced to six months in jail for embezzling a total of $193,299 from Lawn Boys, a local business, and Al-Van Humane Society, a nonprofit organization, where she had been employed. Zordel was convicted of embezzling $140,000 from Lawn Boys over a three year period from 2006 to 2009 and $53,299 from the Al-Van Humane Society over a four year period from 2005 to 2009. Zordel was also ordered to make full restitution to the two organizations.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Former Rhode Island Attorney Sentenced For Embezzling $400+K From Clients

William J. Craven, 67, formerly of Westerly, Rhode Island, was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling more than $400,000 from his clients over a period of five years, from 1999 and 2004. Craven plead no contest to a felony embezzlement charge this past January. Craven must also pay full restitution. One client alone reportedly lost $260,000.

Read the story here, here and here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Connecticut Municipal Employee Charged With Embezzling $400K From City of Stamford

Fred Manfredonia, 59, of Branford, Connecticut has been charged with additional felony counts for allegedly embezzling nearly$400,000 from the City of Stamford, where he had been employed in the municipality's human resources department handling employee benefits. Manfredonia has been originally charged last May on embezzlement charges, but an forensic accounting audit turned up additional losses. The investigation showed Manfredonia allegedly stole about $359,000 from 2005 through 2010. The investigation also showed he took an additional $40,000 prior to 2005, but the statute of limitation precluded authorities with charging him for that misappropriation. The investigation revealed that Manfredonia fraudulently issued checks to himself.

Read the story here, here and here.
Update (1/7/11): Manfredonia was sentenced to 10 years in prison with 5 years suspended.

FINRA Warns Of Online Ponzi Schemes Known As HYIPS

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) warned consumers last week about online Ponzi-type investment fraud schemes known as High Yield Investment Programs or HYIPS that are being marketed through social networking web sites such as Facebook and Twitter. FINRA's investor alert, issued last Thursday, noted that one such fraud had bilked some 40,000 investors in 120 countries out of $70 million. The alert said that many such frauds include classic ponzi warning signs, such as extraordinarily high returns and some are even brazen enough to entice investors to "ride the ponzi" before it collapses.

Read FINRA's alert here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Update: Sachdeva Pleads Guilty In $31.5 Million Koss Embezzlement Case

Sujata "Sue" Sachdeva, 46, of Mequon, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty today to six counts of wire fraud in connection with her alleged embezzlement of a now estimated $31.5 million from publicly-traded and Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Koss Corporation, where she had served as vice president of finance and secretary. In her plea agreement, Sachdeva agreed to make full restitution of about $34 million. According to the original indictment, Sachdeva authorized numerous wire transfers of funds from company bank accounts to pay for her American Express credit card bills and obtained cashier's checks to pay for personal expenses. Further, Sachdeva attempted conceal her fraud by directing other Koss employees to make numerous fraudulent entries in Koss’ books and records. The indictment alleges that her embezzlement scheme commenced in January 2004 and lasted nearly six years until December 2009. Koss has been subjected to shareholder lawsuits and financial restatements as a result of what is believed to be 2009's largest embezzlement case. When the case first broke in December 2009, the loss was believed to be about $4.5 million. However, the losses quickly climbed as the investigation proceeded. She was indicted in January 2010. Under the plea agreement, Sachdeva must forfeit her home and numerous personal items she had purchased with the ill-gotten monies, such as women’s clothing, furs, purses, shoes, jewelry, automobiles, china, statues and household furnishings. Sachdeva has two school age children, Shiva and Simran, and her husband is Dr. Ramesh C. Sujata, a pediatrician in the Milwaukee area.

Read the updated story here.

Read FraudTalk's earlier posts on this story here, here, here and here.
Update (9/16/10): Sachdeva apparently used a Koss Corp. building to warehouse some of the "loot" she purchased with embezzled funds from the company, according to recent filings with the federal court. Federal authorities released a list of items that have been siezed and will be auctioned as part of the restitution process. Among the items siezed include 2,395 pairs of luxury shoes, numerous pieces of jewelry, designer clothes, vases, statues and a 2007 Mercedes E350.
See the whole list here.

Illinois Company Reports Bookkeeper Embezzled $164K Over 5 Years

Hicksgas, based in Decatur, Illinois, reported to authorities that an internal investigation revealed that its bookkeeper, a 52 year old female, had embezzled more than $164,000 from the company over a five year period, from 2004 through 2009. The audit resulted in a police investigation and the arrest of the woman this past Tuesday. The unnamed bookkeeper reportedly admitted to the thefts, claiming that family members had gone through cancer and she needed the money to pay for medical expenses.

Read the story here .

California Woman Charged With Embezzling $100+K

Evette Christine Weiler, 31, of Fremont, California was charged with embezzling at least $100,000 from the Roger Reynolds Nursery in Menlo Park where she had been employed as an office manager and bookkeeper. A company audit last January apparently revealed "dozens of checks" written out to Weiler herself. Weiler is the owner of "When Every Penny Counts" bookkeeping service based in Fremont. She was reportedly hired in October 2008 as bookkeeper at the nursery.

Read the story here and here.

Read the Menlo Park Police Department announcement here.

Update (12/1/10): Weiler pleaded no contest to the charges alleging she embezzled about $140,000 from the Roger Reynolds Nursery.

Update (5/24/11): Weiler, now 32, has been sentenced to 1 year in prison. She has also been ordered to pay $139,929 in restitution.

Update: Former New York CFO Is Spared Jail In $222K Embezzlement Scheme

Sophia M. Canahai, 49, of Lockport, New York, was spared jail time at her sentencing today for embezzling $222,684 from the Cantalician Center for Learning where she had been employed as director of finance. Instead, Canahai was sentenced to five years supervised probation. According to reports, Canahai's father helped make full restitution to the center as required by the court. A 2008 audit revealed the thefts, resulting in an investigation that showed Canahai embezzled from the Center over a period of nearly 17 years, from January 1992 through October 2008. Canahai reportedly spent the stolen money to pay off her home loans and to support her children. At her sentencing hearing, Canahai reportedly expressed remorse. State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller apparently spared Canahai jail time since full restitution had been made. Canahai plead guilty last April to one count of grand larceny and one count of offering a false instrument for filing.

Read FraudTalk's earlier post on this story here.

Read the story here, here and here.

Read the Erie County D.A.'s announcement of Canahai's guilty plea here.

I am sorry folks, but Canahai should have received real jail time here, IMHO.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ohio Woman Pleads Guilty To $290K Embezzlement Scheme

Angela Jackson, aka Angela Bailey, of West Carrollton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to charges she embezzled some $290,000 from the Indian Creek Condominium Association where she had been employed as the property manager. She was originally charged last March with aggravated theft, ten counts of forgery and two counts of misuse of a credit card. Jackson reportedly worked as property manager for about two years and was caught in the scheme last August by officers of the company. Jackson reportedly confessed to the thefts. Authorities suggested that the embezzlement may have been tied into an "addiction" problem Jackson reportedly had.

Read the story here and here.

Former Louisiana Parish Utility Employee Charged With Embezzling More Than $100K

Barbara Topham Vicknair, 60, of Morgan City, Louisiana, has been arrested and charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from the Lower St. Martin Parish Water and Sewer District where she had been employed as office manager. Vicknair was charged with 383 counts of monetary instrument abuse, as well as charges of malfeasance and injuring public records. Vicknair was a 30 year employee of the utility.

Read the story here and here.


Former Pennsylvania Fire Co. Treasurer Accused Of Embezzling $117K

Miles K. Hummer, 70, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has been accused by authorities of embezzling nearly $117,000 from the Goldsboro Fire Company No. 1, where he had served as treasurer for nearly two decades. Hummer, who is also the owner of the Goldsboro Marina, recently suffered a stroke, according to reports. He is charged with felony counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and receiving stolen property and has yet to be arraigned, due to Hummer's health condition. Authorities suspect Hummer in a second embezzlement matter involving a separate volunteer fire department. Hummer's thefts went undetected for seven years, according to investigators.

Read the story here, here and here.

Update (9/8/10): Hummer is also alleged to have embezzled more than $112,000 from Penbrook Volunteer Fire Department where he was also a member and served as longtime treasurer. Hummer apparently wrote checks to himself from Penbrook coffers to help support his marina business over more than five years.

Update (9/29/11): Hummer has been deemed "mentally unfit" to stand trial for his alleged embezzlements.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

California Woman Suspected In $350K Union Embezzlement

Brandi Marcella Madewell of Bakersfield, California, is under investigation for allegedly embezzling more than $350,000 in insurance premiums from the Kern County Public Employees Association, Local 521, of the Service Employees International Union. According to authorities, Madewell admitted to investigators that she stole the money to pay Internet gambling debts and other personal expenses. Madewell was employed by the local's Kern County Public Employee's Insurance Agency, doing business as Valley Benefits Inc.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

California Woman Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $3.9 Million In Federal Low-Income Housing Funds

Belinda S. Exon, 55, currently of Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty to embezzling some $3.9 million in federal funds meant for low-income housing for some 23 Southern California cities for which her Huntington Beach, California-based company, Rehab Financial Services, Inc., provided escrow services. According to prosecutors, Exon, the president of the now-defunct Rehab Financial, kept federal funds meant to be distributed to the various cities. San Francisco sued the company in civil court claiming some $1 million was missing. Prosecutors reached a plea agreement whereby Exon would plead guilty to one felony fraud count and she would face up to 47 months in prison. She must also cooperate with authorities and make restitution. According to the plea agreement, the California cities that lost money are: San Francisco, $1 million; Pomona, $751,000; Seal Beach, $481,432; Huntington Park, $478,000; Westminster, $223,392; Buena Park, $162,563; Rosemead, $128,328; Montebello, $125,000; Apple Valley, $95,452; Camarillo, $91,975; Fullerton, $66,453; Perris, $66,000; Bellflower, $59,140; Calamesa, $42,257; Santa Cruz, $34,784; Encinitas, $29,524; Santa Monica, $26,029; Hollister, $22,195; West Covina, $10,000; Rialto, $8,791; South Gate, $7,603; Hemet, $3,000; and San Juan Capistrano, $2,055. Authorities believe that Exon's scheme lasted for six years, from September 2002 to October 2008 whereby she siphoned the federal funds to help finance several of her new companies, including Nevada based CFH Properties Inc., as well as Arizona-based Desert Foothills Landscaping Inc. and Arizona Pool and Spa Inc. Read the story here, here and here. Read the DOJ announcement here. Update (4/18/11): Exon was sentenced today to 37 months in prison. She was also ordered to pay $4 million in restitution.

Monday, July 12, 2010

North Carolina Woman Sentenced In $861K Embezzlement Scheme

Alisha Bittle, 45, of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, was sentenced to 35 months in prison for embezzling $861,819.42 from the Buck Island Homeowner's Association where she had been employed as a property manager. Prosecutors alleged that Bittle, who plead guilty on April 1st to fraudulent use of access devices, began writing checks to herself or to personal third party vendors in December 2003. She also made charges on company credit cards for personal expenses and made other withdrawals from association accounts. The scheme reportedly lasted until 2008.

Read the story here, here and here.

Read the DOJ announcement here.

Minnesota Woman Pleads Guilty To $130K Embezzlement; Is Sentenced To Probation

Amanda Catherine Heiny, 32, of Austin, Minnesota, has pleaded guilty to embezzling $130,000 from a client of the Craig Ensign Law firm where she had been employed as a secretary. Heiny was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $130,000. Authorities alleged that Heiny transferred funds from a law firm's client estate to her own accounts over a four year period. Heiny was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and must serve 200 hours of community service. She was originally charged last September.

Read the story here and here.
Light sentence....

Former New Jersey Bookkeeper Sentenced For Embezzling $425K From Attorney

Laura Colletti, 51, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling some $425,000 from client trust accounts of local attorney David Zendell. Colletti, who pled guilty to theft by deception last March, transferred funds from the trust accounts to her own and used some of the monies to pay for personal expenses, including credit card bills. Colletti had reportedly been employed by the unnamed attorney for 18 years. Her scheme allegedly spanned a 9 year period.

Read the story here and here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ohio Woman Indicted On Charges She Embezzled $110K From Local Development Company

Darla J. Spooner, 47, of Rootstown, Ohio, was indicted on one count of grand theft in connection with her alleged embezzlement of some $110,000 from Neighborhood Development Services, Inc. in nearby Ravenna, where she had been employed as a finance assistant. Authorities believe Spooner's thefts date back to at least March 2007 and continued until last week, although a forensic accounting investigation has not yet been completed.

Read the story here.

Update (5/31/11): In a plea agreement, Spooner, now 48, pleaded guilty to 26 felony counts, including one count of grand theft and 25 counts of forgery. She was originally indicted on three counts of grand theft and 49 counts of forgery.

Former Georgia Non-Profit Exec Pleads Guilty In $300K Embezzlement Scheme

Sharon L. Rice, 46, formerly of LaGrange, Georgia, pleaded guilty last week to one felony count of wire fraud in connection with her alleged embezzlement of more than $300,000 from the Medical Association of Atlanta, a local non-profit organization where she had been employed as executive director. Rice was in charge of all day-to-day operations of the association, including handling its finances. Prosecutors originally charged Rice last March with 14 counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud. Over more than four hears, from February 2004 until May 2008, Rice is alleged to have written herself a number of checks augmenting her salary as well as writing association checks to cover personal expenses made on a company credit card. Authorities believe Rice concealed her actions by making false entries in the books and records and forging co-signatures on some of checks. Sentencing is scheduled for August 25th.

Read the story here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Massachusetts Woman Accused Of Embezzling $163K

Pamela L. Mazza, 53, of Grafton, Massachusetts, has been accused of embezzling about $163,000 from Saxonville Realty Trust of Framingham and a related company, Creative Development Co. of Newton, where she had been employed as head of human resources and a property manager. Mazza is accused of writing checks out to cash or to personal vendors from company accounts. Mazza is alleged to have stolen the funds over a six year period, from 2004 through 2009.

Read the story here.

Colorado Bookkeeper Sentenced In $232K Embezzlement Case

Errin Leigh Ellzey, 37, of Bailey, Colorado, was sentenced to only 30 days in jail for embezzling $232,480 from Moore Lumber where she had been employed as a bookkeeper. Ellzey was also ordered to pay full restitution and subject to 6 years probation. Ellzey was arrested last November on the suspicion that she had only taken about $15,000. She plead guilty in May to one count of felony theft. Authorities alleged that Ellzey made unauthorized payments to personal accounts with Moore Lumber checks over a nearly 2 year period, from November 2007 to August 2009. Her apparent light sentence was due, in part, to the fact that she reportedly has already paid back $86,464.

Read the story here and here.

Virginia Man Sentenced For Bribing Foreign Officials

John Webster Warwick, 64, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for his part in a conspiracy to bribe former Panamanian government officials to secure maritime contracts. Warwick was also forced to forfeit $331,000 in proceeds from the crime. Warwick, who was an employee of Ports Engineering Consultants Corporation (PECC), pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment charging him with conspiring to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials. A co-conspirator, Charles Jumet, 53, pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information charging him with conspiring to make corrupt payments to foreign government officials and making a false statement and was sentenced to 87 months in prison last April.

Read the story here.

Read the DOJ announcement here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oregon Accountant & Financial Advisor, Suspected In $1 Million+ Embezzlement, Commits Suicide

Dennis Lee Solin, 61, of Eugene, Oregon, reportedly committed suicide by gunshot last month after he learned he was suspected of embezzling more than $1 million from the Life Connection Foundation, a local charitable organization for which he had served as volunteer treasurer. Solin was an accountant and financial advisor to clients in the Eugene area through his firm, Solin Financial Services, LLC. He was reportedly a prominent and well-connected businessman in Eugene. In letter to his wife, Linda, Solin reportedly admitted that he had stolen from the charity over an 8-9 year period and stated, “I have messed up my life now, your life and the kids...I have permanently screwed up the family name, I will forever be remorseful for this..." Linda Solin subsequently filed for divorce after 40 years of marriage to Dennis. According to authorities, Solin made 28 unauthorized withdrawals from the foundation’s account between 2003 and this spring. A full accounting of the loss to the foundation has not yet been completed, but it is expected to exceed $1 million.

Read the story here, here and here.

North Carolina Woman Charged In $600K Embezzlement Scheme

Janet Crutchfield Johnson, 58, of Wilmington, North Carolina, has been charged with embezzling nearly $600,000 from Tinney Painting Inc. where she had been employed as an office manager in charge of check writing and other bookkeeping duties. She is accused of writing checks to herself. The StarNews reports Wilmington Police detective Mike Overton, who is in charge of the investigation, as saying of embezzlement cases, “It’s always the office manager it seems. The owner of the business is tied up in running the business, and they trust their office managers to do the right thing.” Unfortunately, many don't.

Read the story here.


Update: It has been reported that Johnson's scheme spanned as much as six years, dating back to 2004 when she was originally hired.

Pennsylvania Woman Accused Of Embezzling $193K From 2 Townships

Linda Ann Marie Palermo, 41, of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, has been accused of embezzling some $193,000 from two townships she was employed by as a part-time administrator and collections secretary. According to prosecutors, Palermo embezzled $27,855.77 from Lower Gwynedd township and $165,387.49 from West Conshohocken township. Palermo reportedly was able to make additional salary payments to herself with unauthorized checks as well as to make direct payments to third party personal vendors for her own benefit. Palermo's schemes spanned a nearly 9 year period from August 2001 until this past April. Some of the stolen funds were used to pay for her mortgage, overseas vacations, cruises and a 1994 Corvette. She is reported to have confessed to authorities and is quoted as saying that she was able to get away with her embezzlement for so long because, "nobody was checking on what I did."

Read the story here, here and here.

Update (6/5/11): Palermo, now 42, was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in county prison. 

North Carolina Woman Charged With Embezzling $186K From Church

Kathy Koonts Sechriest, 53, of Thomasville, North Carolina, was arrested and charged yesterday with embezzling some $186,000 from the Zion United Church of Christ where she had served as church secretary. She has been charged with embezzlement of greater than $100,000. Details are sketchy at this time.

Read the story here and here.
Update: The thefts allegedly took place over a five year period, from January 2005 until January 2010.