October 20, 2014

Medical Office Receptionist Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement, Credit Card Fraud, and Tax Evasion

NEWARK, NJ—A receptionist previously employed by a medical office in Kearny, New Jersey, today admitted embezzling more than $446,000 from her former employer, using fraudulent credit cards to obtain more than $200,000 in goods and services and evading taxes on that illegal income, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Gwendolyn Muller, 53, formerly of Kearny, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an information charging one count each of embezzlement, credit card fraud and tax evasion.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From 2007 through 2011, Muller used her position at the medical practice to take, cash, and conceal more than $446,000 in checks paid by insurance companies to the medical practice for services to patients. At various times during this same period, Muller also fraudulently obtained 10 credit cards in the name of a principal of the medical practice and used those cards to charge more than $218,000 in goods and services—a portion of which Muller paid for with embezzled funds. Muller also admitted to filing a false tax return to evade the payment of taxes on this illegally obtained income.

The embezzlement and credit card counts to which Muller pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, and the tax count carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. All three counts are also punishable by a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross loss or gain caused by the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 19, 2015. Under terms of the plea agreement, Muller is required to forfeit $556,000 to the United States.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, and IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.

U.S. Attorney Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $540 million in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.