News and Press Releases

Melissa Lynn Sever Arraigned and Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula on August 26, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, MELISSA LYNN SEVER, a 35-year-old resident of Butte, was arraigned and pled guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion. Sentencing is set for December 3, 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:

SEVER worked full time for H & R Block in Butte as a bookkeeper from February 2008 until her embezzlement was discovered in March 2009. SEVER used her position at H & R Block to embezzle from the company in four ways. First, she improperly gained access to management's user ids and passwords and used that information to send unauthorized Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments to herself. Second, she increased her hours worked on several of her paychecks in order to receive larger paychecks than she was entitled to. Third, SEVER wrote checks from the company bank account for her personal benefit. Finally, she took and pocketed cash payments made to H & R Block by clients prior to making the company deposits.

SEVER admitted her theft to investigating agents. She admitted creating false accounting entries in the books and records of the business to hide the true nature of the transactions. She also admitted that the funds she embezzled should have been reported as income on her tax returns.

During 2008, SEVER embezzled approximately $133,000. Her 2008 federal income tax return failed to report much of the embezzled income, and only included the increased wages she was not entitled to receive. The resulting tax loss from the unreported income is $41,947 for the 2008 tax year.

SEVER faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

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



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