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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Arkansas Woman Sentenced To Prison For Defrauding Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

SAN JOSE – Lisa McMahon was sentenced yesterday to 19 months in prison and ordered to pay $798,469.20 in restitution for wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.

McMahon pleaded guilty on March 31, 2014, to one count of defrauding the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. MBARI is a non-profit center for advanced research and education in ocean science and technology located in Moss Landing, Calif., and supported in part by federal funding. Defendant was employed at MBARI as a payroll specialist with responsibilities concerning the payment of wages, 401(k) contributions and loans for MBARI employees. According to the defendant’s admissions in court, from at least 2005 until January of 2012 she 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. Defendant caused the transfer of approximately $800,000 of MBARI funds to her personal accounts without the authorization or knowledge of her employer.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, United States District Court Judge in San Jose. Judge Davila also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release. As a condition of her sentence defendant is prohibited from maintaining a position of fiduciary capacity without the prior permission of her probation office, and from having any contact with the victim MBARI.

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.

(McMahon indictment )