Former Fifth Third Bank Vice President Pleads Guilty to Filing a False Tax-Related Document in Embezzlement Scheme
Orlando, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Nikki Christine Highfield (39, Maineville, Ohio) today pleaded guilty to an information charging her with filing a false tax-related document. Highfield faces a maximum penalty of 3 years in federal prison.
According to the plea agreement, Highfield was employed as an Assistant Vice President and Regional Risk and Administration Manager at Fifth Third Bank in Orlando from 2005-2008. Her responsibilities with the bank included the oversight of the cashier’s checks issued from the bank’s official check clearing general ledger account, as well as the reconciliation of the account. During that time, Highfield engaged in a scheme to defraud the bank, in violation of her fiduciary duties, by embezzling funds through the use of cashier’s checks. On March 10, 2008, Fifth Third Bank investigators confronted Highfield about the scheme. She subsequently signed a handwritten confession admitting that she had embezzled $274,751.27 from the bank. The loss amount was corroborated by credit slips that Highfield had kept in her possession.
A subsequent investigation by the IRS revealed that Highfield had failed to declare the embezzled funds as income on the joint 1040 forms that she had prepared for herself and her husband in tax years 2005 and 2006. The under-reporting of her income resulted in a total tax loss of $24,211 to the government. Prior to submitting the 1040 forms to the Internal Revenue Service Center, in Atlanta, Georgia, Highfield had prepared and signed each of them under penalty of perjury. Highfield’s husband had been unaware of the embezzled income.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.