FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
FEBRUARY 9, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HAMPSTEAD WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY IN SCHEME TO EMBEZZLE
OVER $313,000 FROM HER EMPLOYER AND TO FILING FALSE TAX RETURNS
Baltimore, Maryland - Sandra Iris Klaus, age 46, of Hampstead, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and filing a false tax return in connection with a scheme to steal $313,000 from her employer.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric C. Hylton of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“The role of IRS-Criminal Investigation becomes even more important in embezzlement and fraud cases like this one due to the complex financial transactions that can take time to unravel,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric Hylton. “Federal tax laws are normally violated in these cases and as we often see, the victims are not only the taxpayers, but also the individuals and entities who suffer the financial harm.”
According to Klaus’ plea agreement, from March 2005 to March 2011 Klaus was employed by a roofing and sheet metal company located in Westminster, Maryland as an administrative assistant and bookkeeper. Klaus was responsible for preparing and submitting the employee weekly payroll and issuing checks to pay vendors. From January 2007 to March 23, 2011, Klaus caused payroll checks to be issued to a fictitious employee, which Klaus then endorsed and cashed. Between January, 2007 and March, 2011, Klaus cashed 206 weekly paychecks that she fraudulently caused to be prepared, for a total loss to her employer of $110,110.87.
Klaus admitted that she also diverted company funds to pay her personal credit card bills, and used a rubber stamp with the name of an authorized company signatory printed on it to sign company checks for her personal benefit. Klaus also inserted her name as payee on checks that were signed by an authorized person and given to Klaus to make payments for the business. Finally, Klaus used the company credit cards to make unauthorized purchases for her personal use and benefit. Using these schemes, from 2008 through March, 2011, Klaus fraudulently caused the company to make $203,114.69 in payments on her behalf.
In an effort to conceal the scheme, Klaus made entries into the company’s accounting software system to disguise checks she sent from the company’s bank account to pay her credit card bills as payments to legitimate vendors. Klaus also secretly set up a connection from her personal home computer to the company computer server so that she could make fraudulent entries into the company’s accounting system from home.
Further, on September 10, 2009, Klaus submitted a letter on the company letterhead in support of an application for a mortgage to purchase a home located in Hampstead, Maryland. Klaus made several false statements in this letter, including that she was guaranteed a minimum annual bonus of $10,000 each year. Klaus signed the letter as the president of the company for whom she worked, without his knowledge or permission. Based on the information submitted by Klaus, including the fraudulent letter of support, Klaus obtained a mortgage loan of $266,055.49.
Finally, Klaus admitted that she filed false tax returns for tax years 2007 through 2010, substantially underreporting her income in those tax years because she did not include any of the funds stolen from her employer. The total tax loss resulting from the Klaus’ illegal conduct is $111,780.
As part of her plea agreement, Klaus is required to pay restitution of at least $313,225.56, which she stole from her employer and $111,780 to the IRS.
Klaus faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for mail fraud; two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft; and three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for filing a false tax return. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has scheduled sentencing for June 14, 2012, at 12:00 p.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory R. Bockin and Martin J. Clarke, who are prosecuting the case.