Vineyard Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Over $3M from Employer
BOSTON — A Vineyard woman who was the former executive assistant of a Waltham-based technology company has pleaded guilty in connection to a fraud and embezzlement scheme that netted over $3 million.
U.S. District Andrew Attorney Lelling’s Office says 38-year-old Shivani Patel, of Vineyard Haven, pleaded guilty to one count each of bank fraud, money laundering and filing false tax returns on Monday in federal court in Boston on Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Leo Sorokin has scheduled sentencing for Jan. 13. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of 57 months in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine between $20,000 and $200,000, restitution and forfeiture.
As an executive assistant to the chief financial officer, Patel’s duties included retrieving incoming mail containing customer checks made payable to her employer, recording the checks into the payment system and depositing the checks into her employer’s bank account.
From at least February 2012 through July 2017, Patel embezzled approximately $3,076,369 from her then employer for her personal use. Specifically, in February 2012, Patel created a company with a name nearly identical to that of her then employer — using her employer’s name but just adding an “s” to the end — and opened a business banking account in the sham company’s name.
Thereafter, Patel took customer checks payable to her employer from the mail, deposited those checks into the sham company’s bank account, and concealed her embezzlement by making false entries in her employer’s billing system. To disguise and conceal the nature of these funds, Patel funneled this money through multiple bank accounts.
In addition, Patel filed income tax returns for the tax years 2012 through 2016 in which she intentionally underreported her income by failing to disclose the money she had stolen from her employer.
The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of $1 million, restitution and forfeiture. The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years, three years of supervised release, a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount involved in the transaction, restitution and forfeiture. The charge of filing false tax returns provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release, a fine of $100,000, restitution and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin D. O’Connell of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.