Accountant embezzles $ 1 million from North Carolina nursery: Federal government
A longtime accountant and office manager at a family nursery in North Carolina has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $ 1 million from his employer over six years, according to the federal government.
The money was used to equip a home theater, buy a new truck and pay off his mortgage, prosecutors said.
Richard Allen Clark, 55, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, money laundering and misrepresentation on her tax return, the North Carolina West District U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Thursday. Clark is from Lenoir, about 86 miles northwest of Charlotte in the Foothills.
A defense attorney representing Clark told McClatchy News in a statement on Friday that his client was “a family man who has led a life of hard work and has made a significant contribution to his community.”
“We all make mistakes of varying magnitude. Yesterday, in federal court, Mr. Clark accepted full responsibility for it, ”said attorney William R. Terpening. “He looks forward to continuing to actively cooperate with the government and carry out renditions, and expresses his regret and apologies. He looks forward to providing the court with the context of his actions and their circumstances, and to share some of his side of that story, at the next sentencing hearing. “
Court documents show Clark started working for a family that operated two nursery companies in 2003. Prosecutors have not identified the companies.
Part of his responsibilities would have included keeping financial records, paying vendors and the Internal Revenue Service, and monitoring business bank accounts.
In 2013, Clark began writing checks from the company, prosecutors said. He is accused of muddying the waters by changing the description of the check in QuickBooks, an accounting software frequently used by small businesses.
As part of its plea deal, the government said Clark “admitted to laundering the funds he embezzled from his employer by withdrawing customer funds from the company’s bank account through several fraudulent checks. payable to himself, which he deposited in several personal bank accounts “.
Three years later, in 2016, his employer reportedly changed his address and asked Clark to close one of his bank accounts at Lenoir. But prosecutors said Clark ignored the request.
“Clark did not close the account, but secretly used the Capital Bank account to steal funds from victimized businesses,” the government said.
He allegedly did so by telling customers to wire or mail the checks to the old address, which prosecutors said they then deposited into the bank account the company supposedly closed. According to court documents, Clark used an old-fashioned mailbox to receive everything from payments to bank correspondence without his employers knowing.
He continued to write checks from that bank account for years, prosecutors said.
From 2013 to 2019, the government said Clark withdrew from his own bank account large sums of money stolen from his employer – including $ 50,000 for a home theater, $ 80,000 for his mortgage and $ 20,000 for a Ford F-250.
“The remaining funds (were used) to pay for his personal lifestyle of eating out, shopping, traveling and paying off a car loan,” prosecutors said.
Clark is also accused of failing to report stolen income on his tax returns.
Upon conviction, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine for mail fraud, up to 20 years in prison and a $ 500,000 fine for money laundering and up to three years in prison and a $ 100,000 fine for making false statements on his tax return.