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Press Release

Former Fresno Business CFO Sentenced to over 5 Years in Prison for Embezzlement and Money Laundering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

Fresno, Calif. —Anthony Lester, 53, of Fresno, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd to five years and four months for mail fraud and money laundering in connection with his embezzlement of $306,000 from a Fresno business, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

On August 19, 2016, after a four-day trial, a jury found Lester guilty on all seven counts charged in the indictment. 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, 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. He also attempted to frame his predecessor and other employees of the companies by falsely associating them with the PayPal accounts.

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 to 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 $306,000 from his former employer.

“Financial crimes are a concern in every type and size of business, and sadly it often involves the most trusted individuals,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI San Francisco. “The crimes not only rob businesses of vital revenue, but they also undermine the trust of employees and customers alike.”

In addition to prison sentence, Lester was ordered to pay $306,319 in restitution to the companies.

This case was 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 prosecuted the case.

Updated November 14, 2016

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 1:14-cr-236-DAD