A North Carolina woman appeared in a federal court on Jan. 12 to enter a guilty plea to a single charge of wire fraud in connection with a $15 million embezzlement scheme. According to U.S. attorneys, the 52-year-old Taylorsville resident took the money from a firm that produces carbide products between 2013 and 2020 while serving as the company’s chief executive officer. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
Credit cards, checks and bank transfers
Court documents reveal that the woman made fraudulent purchases using company credit cards, wrote checks to herself and transferred money from company accounts to her personal accounts. She then used the embezzled money to fund an extravagant lifestyle and support a family business. The woman is said to have spent more than $6 million to buy jewelry and other items from exclusive stores, book rooms at luxury hotels and purchase tickets to premium events. The rest of the money was used to purchase items for a boutique she founded in 2013.
Concealing the scheme
Federal prosecutors say the woman used her influence as CEO to conceal her federal crimes. They claim she restricted and monitored communications when her embezzlement delayed paychecks, caused employee insurance policies to be canceled and company credit card transactions to be declined, and she then blamed these problems on the company’s foreign owners. State court records reveal that the woman has been convicted of embezzlement before. In 1995, she pleaded guilty to stealing more than $500,000 from a Winston-Salem sign company to purchase items including a home, automobiles and a personal watercraft.
People accused of committing federal crimes often do not realize that they are under suspicion until they are taken into custody, and U.S. attorneys are reluctant to pursue cases unless the evidence is overwhelming. This is why most people accused of white-collar crimes like embezzlement accept plea deals. The penalties are usually severe in federal cases, but U.S. attorneys may be willing to make generous offers in return for a swift and successful resolution.