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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Friday, August 19, 2016

Former Fresno Business CFO Found Guilty of Embezzlement and Money Laundering

FRESNO, Calif. — After a four-day trial, a federal jury found Anthony Lester, 52, of Fresno, guilty today of two counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering in connection with his embezzlement of $300,000 from a Fresno business, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to evidence at trial, between August 2010 and January 2012, Lester embezzled and stole money from his former employer. While an employee at Century Builders and Highlands Energy Services (the Companies) he held supervising positions in the accounting department, including Chief Financial Officer. In those capacities, Lester had responsibilities regarding management of the Companies’ finances and financial transactions and had access to and control over some of the Companies’ checking accounts and credit cards. Lester used this access to defraud the Companies.

According to court documents, Lester transferred money from one of the Companies’ checking accounts into what purported to be the Companies’ PayPal account. Then he transferred the money to one of his own personal PayPal accounts. Additionally, he transferred money from two of the Companies’ credit cards to his personal PayPal account. Thereafter, he attempted launder the proceeds of his fraudulent scheme and conceal his embezzlement by transferring money from his personal PayPal account to his personal bank accounts. None of these transactions were authorized by the Companies, and none were for legitimate business purposes of the Companies. In total, Lester embezzled approximately $300,000 from his former employer.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Patrick R. Delahunty and Patrick J. Suter are prosecuting the case.

“Financial crimes like this don’t just line the pockets of ethically challenged businessmen, they also pose a threat to the continuing growth and vitality of our economy,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “We are particularly grateful for the tenacious work of our law enforcement partners in Homeland Security Investigations and the Fresno Police Department in cutting through the defendant’s elaborate efforts to conceal this complex white collar fraud.”

“The greed of lawbreakers like this can negatively impact many people and cause local businesses to suffer unrecoverable losses of money, jobs and more,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco. “HSI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners in targeting these devious criminals.”

Lester is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on November 14, 2016. Lester faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for mail fraud and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for money laundering (or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater). The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Financial Fraud
Updated August 19, 2016