Local Woman Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud for Embezzling Church Funds
TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Juliet Ellis (45, Tampa) today pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in connection with embezzling funds from a local church. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. As part of the agreement, Ellis has agreed to pay restitution to the church in the total amount of $82,838.00. Her sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, Ellis began working as a financial secretary at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church in February 2007. She was later promoted to business manager. In that capacity, Ellis was responsible for preparing the payroll for the church’s employees and administering the employee’s health and short-term disability insurance benefits programs. In performing these duties, Ellis manipulated the church’s payroll by falsely increasing the amount directly deposited to her account for her paycheck, and by failing to deduct her own health and disability insurance co-payments. She also failed to fully pay her child’s tuition at the church’s day school.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tampa Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen.