Former Office Manager Pleads Guilty To Embezzling More Than $400,000 From Law Firm-Defendant Handled Payroll And Accounts Payable For Firm-
WASHINGTON – Bernard Chung, 31, of Falls Church, Va., pled guilty on Oct. 7, 2013 to a federal wire fraud charge stemming from his embezzlement of more than $400,000 from the law firm where he worked as an office manager, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Chung entered the plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Honorable Thomas F. Hogan scheduled sentencing for Jan. 16, 2014. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and financial penalties. The parties have agreed that, under federal sentencing guidelines, Chung faces a likely range of 30 to 37 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $60,000. He also will be required to pay restitution.
According to facts presented to the Court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, Chung worked from 2009 until August 2012 as the office manager for North Star Intellectual Property Law, LLC, a law firm that is based in downtown Washington, D.C. His duties included setting up the firm’s computer systems and network, creating a paperless environment, payroll, and bill payments.
Beginning in February 2010, and continuing until July 2012, Chung devised a scheme to defraud the firm, ultimately embezzling $407,062. He generated the money by issuing excessive salary payments to himself, inflating his regular paychecks, and other means. He was able to hide his activities in large part because his employment position authorized him to handle the payroll and accounts payable, creating a mechanism that he could exploit for his own financial benefit.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen and Assistant Director in Charge Parlave commended the work of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which investigated the case. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Donna Galindo and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, who is investigating and prosecuting the case.