Former Accounting Assistant Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge in $144,000 Theft from Non-Profit
Defendant Created and Processed False Expense Reports
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 22, 2014|
WASHINGTON—Tabitha Harley-Williams, 34, pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from the theft of more than $144,000 from a non-profit organization where she worked as an accounting assistant, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Harley-Williams, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. The Honorable Senior Judge Gladys Kessler scheduled sentencing for July 15, 2014. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Harley-Williams faces a likely range of 12 to 18 months of incarceration, as well as a fine of up to $30,000. Under the plea agreement, Harley-Williams also must pay restitution to the non-profit. Finally, she is subject to an additional forfeiture money judgment.
According to the government’s evidence, the non-profit, identified in court documents as “Company A,” is an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation for the accreditation of professional, technical, and occupational career education programs. Harley-Williams began working there in 2008 as an accounting assistant. Part of her responsibilities included processing reimbursement requests from employees for travel and entertainment expenses.
In or around October 2012, Harley-Williams began creating false expense reports on behalf of other employees that appeared to be legitimate expenses. After Harley-Williams received supervisory approval to process these false expense reports, she changed the wire payment request information sent to Company A’s bank to reflect her own bank account information, rather than the account information of the employee for whom Harley-Williams had submitted the false expense reports. Between October 2012 and April 2013, Harley-Williams processed approximately 38 transactions in this manner, directing a total of $144,113 to her personal bank account. Harley-Williams had no legitimate rights to any of the funds. She left the non-profit in May 2013, and the transactions were later discovered in a budget review.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen and Assistant Director in Charge Parlave commended those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Donna Galindo, Corinne Kleinman, and Angela Lawrence, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Catherine K. Connelly and Anthony Saler, who handled forfeiture issues. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard DiZinno, who investigated and prosecuted the matter.