Colorado Woman Sentenced to 27 Months in Prison on Federal Wire Fraud Charge, Admits Embezzling Money from Non-Profit
Defendant Stole More Than $545,000
WASHINGTON – Ashley Furst, 35, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for her role in an embezzlement scheme in which she stole over $545,000 from a non-profit organization in the District of Columbia.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Furst pled guilty in January 2019, to one count of wire fraud charge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was sentenced by the Honorable Dabney L. Friedrich. In addition to her prison term, Furst must pay restitution in the amount of $244,994.87, as well as a forfeiture money judgement in the same amount. Following her prison term, she will be placed on three years of supervised release, during which she must complete 100 hours of community service.
Furst was hired in 2011 as the office administrator for the American Horse Council; a Washington, D.C. based non-profit trade association. She was later promoted to the position of Director of Communications. While employed by the non-profit, Furst’s responsibilities included public outreach, membership recruitment, and communications. She also handled duties typically performed by an office administrator, such as maintaining accounting records, reconciling the monthly bank account statements, transferring on-line donations from the PayPal account to their bank account, providing copies of the bank statements to the members of the Board of Directors, and serving as the sole point of contact for the outside auditors.
Starting in 2012 and continuing through June 2018, Furst stole money from the non-profit in a variety of ways. First, she paid her own personal credit card bills from her employer’s bank account, primarily through on-line debits from the bank account to satisfy her credit card balance, for approximately $415,202.52. Second, she wrote herself unauthorized checks drawn on her employer’s bank account, typically listing on the memo line a bogus reason for the check, for approximately $83,656.40. Third, she repaid her personal loan from her employer’s funds, for approximately $56,411.43. Fourth, although Furst was responsible for transferring donations from her employer’s PayPal account, she misdirected approximately $60,949.49 to her own account or to pay for personal items. Fifth, Furst increased her salary without authorization, by approximately $29,875.03. Through these five methods, Furst embezzled approximately $646,094. However, before the victim discovered the crime, Furst returned $100,500 to her employer, leaving a total embezzlement of $545,594.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge McNamara commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Amanda Rohde and Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.