News and Press Releases

Sharon Lynn Dunlap Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on November 16, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, SHARON LYNN DUNLAP, a 38-year-old resident of Red Lodge, pled guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is set for February 18, 2010. She is currently released on special conditions.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M Archer, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

DUNLAP was employed by Blackstone Operating, also doing business as Quantum Partnership, for approximately four years. Blackstone Operating is located in Red Lodge. In January of 2006, DUNLAP was promoted to head bookkeeper and office manager.

During the first week of May 2008, a Blackstone quarter-partner was reviewing financial statements when he noticed that DUNLAP'S bi-weekly salary had increased from $1,525 to $2,615. He confronted DUNLAP, who stated that she had given herself a raise. The raise had not been approved by the partners. This prompted the quarter-partner to look further into DUNLAP'S actions.

Additional inquiry and investigation revealed that between August 2006 and April 2008, DUNLAP wrote checks from Quantum's business checking account to her husband's concrete construction company, A & A Construction. A & A Construction never performed any work for Blackstone or Quantum. The checks totaled $37,168.12. DUNLAP'S practice was to write unauthorized checks using a signature stamp and deposit them into A & A's First Interstate checking account. Then, via online banking, DUNLAP would transfer the stolen funds into her personal First Interstate Bank account and use the funds for personal expenses.

Additionally, from October 2006 through May 2008, DUNLAP made numerous unauthorized purchases on Quantum's Discover credit card. The purchases totaled $28,013.50. The items she purchased ranged from personal vacation and travel for herself and family members (including hotels, airline tickets, a Disneyland trip, and hockey games), to miscellaneous expenses at Pet Smart and Wal-Mart, as well as jewelry. DUNLAP then paid the Discover Card bills with checks she wrote from the Quantum business checking account.

In addition to these offenses, DUNLAP also made unauthorized gasoline purchases with Quantum's Exxon Mobile and Conoco Phillips credit cards totaling $1,714.28, and overpaid herself $6,855.98. Quantum's fraud loss totaled $73,751.88.

DUNLAP provided a full confession of her fraudulent activities along with a written statement detailing her offense.

DUNLAP faces possible penalties of 30 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release. In addition, DUNLAP faces an additional mandatory two year imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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