A New York woman has admitted to stealing more than $600,000 from her employer over a 22-month period. According to a statement released on July 1 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the 40-year-old Bronx resident has entered a guilty plea to a single count of wire fraud in connection with the embezzlement scheme.
Court papers reveal that a family-owned kitchen remodeling firm hired the woman in October 2019. Federal agents say she began to steal from her new employer almost immediately. Bank records and financial documents are said to show hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorized bank transfers and credit card charges. The woman has also admitted to setting up a fake vendor to defraud her employer. Prosecutors say she used the money to pay her personal expenses and fund a lavish lifestyle.
The woman may have chosen to enter into a plea agreement because the documents uncovered by investigators could be difficult to explain and the white-collar crime she is charged with carries a sentence of up to 20 years in a federal prison. The vast majority of federal cases are settled in this way because U.S. attorneys usually make generous plea offers even when they have compelling evidence. In July 2020, a former credit union official was sentenced to 27 months in prison for embezzling more than $400,000 from a police retirement fund. If he had been found guilty by a jury, he could have been sent to prison for 27 years.
Federal prosecutors make generous offers to embezzlement and fraud suspects because they work under tremendous pressure. They also know that a high conviction rate will improve their chances of promotion. U.S. attorneys prefer to avoid trials because juries are unpredictable and add an unwelcome element of risk, and this is especially true when the suspect is charged with a white-collar crime like embezzlement or bribery. The laws dealing with these offenses are complex and can be difficult to understand, which could muddy the facts and make it harder to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.