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Sept. 2, 2010

FORMER CFO OF HOUSTON ENGINEERING FIRM SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR EMBEZZLING MILLIONS

(HOUSTON) – Christopher McCullough, 47, currently of Frederic, Colo., and formerly of Houston, has been sentenced to 51 months in prison for his embezzlement of more than $3 million while serving as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of LJA Engineering, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. McCullough pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property on April 29, 2010.

“This was an unusually vicious economic crime,” United States District Judge Nancy Atlas said at the sentencing hearing this afternoon, “and one of the worst frauds I have ever seen.” In addition to the 51-month term, Judge Atlas ordered McCullough to pay $3,787,737 in restitution to his former employer and to serve a three-year-term of supervised release upon his release from federal prison.

According to the public record in this case, McCullough served as the CFO of Houston-based LJA and was a member of LJA’s Board of Directors. Using the access he had as CFO to LJA bank accounts, McCullough engaged in more than 200 transactions totaling more than $3.7 million in which he converted LJA funds to his personal use. McCullough embezzled these funds by withdrawing cash, writing checks drawn on the LJA accounts to pay his personal expenses and purchasing cashier’s checks with the LJA funds which he used to pay personal expenses. The personal expenses McCullough paid with the embezzled funds included his personal taxes owed to the IRS, stock purchases, the purchase of real estate in Houston and Colorado and expenses related to the construction, landscaping and interior decorating of a home in Estes Park, Colo. It was McCullough’s transportation of the embezzled cashier’s check from Houston to Colorado to pay for expenses related to his Estes Park home that was the basis for the federal charge of interstate transportation of stolen property. 

McCullough was permitted to remain on bond and will be ordered to surrender at a Bureau of Prisons facility at a future date.
           
The case was investigated by the FBI with the cooperation of LJA Engineering. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregg Costa.

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