Akron paralegal charged with stealing $350,000 from law firm clients, spent some of the money at casinos
An Akron woman was charged with one count of wire fraud related to the theft of more than $350,000 from clients of a law firm where she worked, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
A criminal information was filed charging Catherine Chenoweth, age 56, of Akron, Ohio, with one count of wire fraud, according to court records. She used at least some of the money she took on gambling trips to casinos in West Viriginia, according to the information.
Chenoweth worked for several years as a paralegal for a law firm located in Uniontown, Ohio, until January 2010, when her employment was terminated. During this period, Chenoweth’s duties primarily involved performing work for the Uniontown Law Firm’s estate and probate clients, according to the information.
Chenoweth had access to client bank account and other financial information as part of her day-to-day responsibilities; she was required to conduct business transactions for clients or at their request, and she had access to checks, passwords, and other information for this purpose, according to the information.
The information further alleges that Chenoweth used her position to defraud the firm’s clients of approximately $351,700.00 by forging or misdirecting checks drawn on client accounts, and by making false representations to clients about her own financial situation.
According to the information, Chenoweth made personal recreational use of the money she stole, including spending it at casinos located in West Virginia.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Akron Resident Agency and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca Lutzko.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.