Former Chief Financial Officer Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison For Embezzling over $2.7 Million

August 10, 2010

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Ernest Theodore Solo, age 60, of Boyds, Maryland, today to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud in connection with a scheme to embezzle more than $2.7 million from the company where he worked. Judge Messitte also entered an order requiring Solo to pay restitution of $2,741,700.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to Solo’s plea, from at least 2000 through 2008, Solo, who was the chief financial officer at a local petroleum company, embezzled money from the company by authorizing and signing company checks made payable to himself or to a bank to which Solo owed money. Solo embezzled a total of $2,447,000 in this manner.

In addition, during the same time period, Solo stole approximately $333,000 from the petty cash fund of the company. Solo had exclusive control over the petty cash fund. Although the actual petty cash fund never exceeded $1,000, Solo had multiple checks prepared that were $3,000 or more. After cashing the checks, purportedly for the petty cash fund, Solo replenished the petty cash fund up to $1,000, but kept the excess funds for himself.

Solo attempted to hide the embezzlement by falsifying the financial records of the company; destroying records of the checks; and hiding the fraud from outside auditors hired by the company to review its finances.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Su and Mara B. Zusman, who prosecuted the case.

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