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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 30, 2013

Arkansas Woman Indicted For Defrauding Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

SAN JOSE – Yesterday, a federal grand jury in San Jose, California, indicted Lisa McMahon, of Mountain View, Arkansas with wire fraud and theft from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

MBARI is a non-profit center for advanced research and education in ocean science and technology located in Moss Landing, California, and supported in part by federal funding. According to the indictment, McMahon was employed at MBARI as a payroll specialist with responsibilities concerning the payment of wages, 401(k) contributions and loans for MBARI employees. The indictment alleges that, from at least 2005 until January of 2012, McMahon devised and executed a scheme to defraud MBARI by altering payroll and 401(k) records to cause and conceal fraudulent payments to her personal accounts. According to the indictment, McMahon caused the transfer of approximately $800,000 of MBARI funds to her personal accounts without the authorization or knowledge of her employer.

McMahon’s initial appearance is scheduled for Thursday, June 6, 2013, at 10:30 am, in front of The Honorable Paul S. Grewal, U.S. Magistrate Judge, in San Jose, California.

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, section 1343, is twenty years imprisonment and a fine up to twice the pecuniary gain or loss associated with the offense, plus restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of theft from a federal program in violation of Title 18, United States Code, section 666, is ten years imprisonment and a fine up to twice the pecuniary gain or loss associated with the offense, plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Philip A. Guentert is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, McMahon must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.