Melissa Lynn Sever Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on December 3, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, MELISSA LYNN SEVER, a 35-year-old resident of Butte, appeared for sentencing. SEVER was sentenced to a term of:
- Prison: 24 months
- Special Assessment: $200
- Restitution: $342,441.10
- Supervised Release: 3 years
SEVER was sentenced in connection with her guilty plea to wire fraud and tax evasion.
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.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that SEVER will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, SEVER does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.