Ronda Marie Walter Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings on June 23, 2010, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, RONDA MARIE WALTER, a 42-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to wire fraud. Sentencing has been set for September 22, 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:
In December 2008, Underriner Motors discovered that the company accounts did not reconcile and were off by $123,000. Further investigation revealed that a long-time employee, WALTER, had been misappropriating funds since June 2005. WALTER misappropriated funds by taking cash on hand out of the bank deposits.
When a customer paid the cashier for services, down payments or other expenses at the dealership, the payments were logged into the "daily cashier's log." WALTER would take a portion of the cash deposits at the end of the day and pocket them, although the logs showed the full cash amounts. She would then subtract the amount of cash taken from one of the checks deposited that day - making it look like the deposited check was for less than it actually was. Then when the funds were deposited into the bank, the cash would be less by the amount WALTER took, and the checks would be more by the amount she altered, all with the appearance that the accounts balanced.
On March 20, 2007, for instance, Underriner received $226.11 in cash. This full amount was reflected in the logs. They also received check 17557 from Lithia Dodge comprising a $715.37 payment. WALTER pocketed $200 of the cash and only deposited $26.11 into Underriner's account. In the company logs, she reflected the $715.37 check as $515.37. So when the check was deposited for the full $717.37, it made up the $200 shortfall in cash. This same check was cleared from Lithia Dodge's U.S. Bank account in Helena and the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, Minnesota, thereby comprising an interstate wire transfer.
In all, from June 2005 through December 2008, WALTER misappropriated $198,845.44 in cash. She also made false entries into the books and records to make it appear she was making her lease payments and received a benefit of $7,020 in lease payments, for a total loss of $205,865.44. WALTER has admitted to misappropriating both cash proceeds and manipulating her lease payments.
WALTER faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.