Florida Woman Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement, Wire Fraud
A Florida woman who served as the director of finance for a non-profit has pleaded guilty to embezzling over $200,000 in funds from the company while she was employed there. She was fired in 2020 after a 6-year run with the non-profit for poor performance.
According to the indictment, she funneled the non-profit’s funds to bank accounts under her control, diverted credit card reward checks to herself, and made personal purchases using the non-profit’s credit card. In one case, she used the diverted funds to pay off a fine from another embezzlement scheme for which she was caught in Virginia.
The defendant concealed the fraud by fabricating company names on invoices, using beneficiary names, and creating fake invoices. She is further accused of forging signatures on credit card awards checks to get them cashed.
The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in federal prison. The recommended sentence in a case like this is between 33 and 41 months. It is unclear if her prior conviction in Virginia will impact her sentencing. Repeat offenders tend to face stiffer penalties when they are charged and convicted with the same crime twice.
Understanding embezzlement charges
Embezzlement is a category of fraud offense where the defendant is accused of stealing money from a company for which they are employed. Essentially, they divert company funds to their own coffers for personal gain. To pull this off, they have to hide the money exchanges behind apparently legitimate transactions. If you just siphon money from your company, that’s embezzlement. When you try to cover up the embezzlement, it becomes fraud. Hiding the embezzlement is worse than the embezzlement itself.
In this case, the defendant had to fabricate invoices to hide the theft from her company. At that point, the embezzlement becomes wire fraud and has a possible maximum sentence of 20 years. The defendant also committed forgery to carry out the scheme and “uttered” forged documents, forging signatures so that she could cash checks that were not written to her. So, if you steal money from your company, you’re a thief. But if you trick the company into thinking it’s paying out invoices that it is actually paying directly to you, then you are committing wire fraud. The difference is that a fraud scheme requires orchestration, deception, and an ongoing commitment to cause harm to your employer. So, there’s a strong element of premeditation to it. Hence why the penalties for wire fraud are greater than embezzlement, forgery, or simple theft.
Talk to a Tampa White-Collar Defense Attorney
The Tampa criminal lawyers at the Matassini Law Firm represent defendants facing federal fraud charges. Call today to discuss the matter in greater detail, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.