On Aug. 7, a woman pleaded guilty to stealing funds from the Pittsburgh-area car dealership she was formerly employed by. The 61-year-old woman reportedly stole a total of $700,000 from South Hills Volkswagen while she worked as the company's office manager. Her charges included federal fraud and filing a false tax return. The New Castle woman is scheduled to receive her sentence in Pittsburgh federal court on Nov. 20.
According to investigators, the accused woman stole money from her employer on numerous occasions between 2006 and 2011. After using business funds to pay off her own personal credit card debt and make car payments for herself, the woman would hide the expenses by falsifying entries in the accounting records and issuing phony financial reports for the business.
During the five-year period, the woman reportedly made a total of 160 online payments for her personal benefit by accessing her employer's online bank accounts. The woman was also accused of writing 98 unauthorized paychecks to herself and using other methods of skimming cash from the company.
Although the woman in this case pleaded guilty, not all fraud cases have to end in the same way. If an accused person has not yet admitted to any wrongdoing, a criminal defense attorney may advise them to maintain their innocence. Because fraudulent activities can often be explained by a person's incompetence or ignorance, the prosecution may have a difficult time proving that the defendant committed a crime without the defendant's own admission of guilt. In cases where the defendant has already offered some type of confession, an attorney may be able to help them to establish that the fraudulent activity they confessed to was isolated to a particular event and not a repeated pattern of behavior.
Source: The Republic, "Former office manager pleads guilty to federal charges of stealing $700K from car dealership", August 08, 2014