BOSTON — The former bookkeeper of a New Bedford-based seafood company has been charged in federal court and has agreed to plead guilty in connection with embezzling nearly $600,000 from her employer.

Kara Howland, 37, of New Bedford, was charged with bank fraud and filing a false tax return. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties have agreed to a sentence, subject to the Court’s approval, of 18 to 36 months in prison, a fine and restitution. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled by the Court.

According to court documents, between January 2016 and December 2019, Howland embezzled $598,241 from her employer by writing checks from her employer’s bank accounts to pay her credit card bills. Howland altered the company’s internal accounting records to make it appear that the checks were paid to legitimate vendors. Additionally, Howland did not report or include the funds that she embezzled on her federal income tax filings, resulting in a tax loss of $180,863.

The charge of bank fraud provides a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of filing a false tax return provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $100,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

— U.S. Attorney’s Office

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