Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that LATANYA A. BRITTON, age 41, resident of LaPlace, Louisiana, entered a plea of guilty on Monday, August 12, 2019 to Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.
According to court records, on January 22, 2018, BRITTON was hired as a bookkeeper in the client accounting services department at Accounting Firm A. Accounting Firm A was located in New Orleans, Louisiana and provided client accounting services to local businesses and individuals. Client B, a restaurant located in the New Orleans French Quarter, was a small business client of Accounting Firm A. BRITTON became the bookkeeper for Client B and was entrusted with the daily accounting and bill paying for Client B’s account. Accounting Firm A utilized a cloud-based accounting software called Restaurant 365 to manage the account for Client B. Restaurant 365 allowed BRITTON authorized access to Client B’s bank account. BRITTON’s position allowed her to issue checks to Client B’s vendors that contained an electronic signature of the managing shareholder of Client B.
On August 16, 2018, BRITTON established an entity named Lagniappe Accounting Services, L.L.C. (“Lagniappe”). Navy Federal Credit Union (“NFCU”) was a domestic financial banking institution headquartered in Vienna, Virginia. All check images received by NFCU either from a NFCU branch, ATM, e-deposit, or other channel, were transmitted to computer servers located in Vienna, Virginia. On August 24, 2018, BRITTON opened bank account No. ******2479 with NFCU under the name Lagniappe.
BRITTON devised and implemented a scheme to defraud Client B by embezzling approximately $32,000 from Client B’s bank account. BRITTON accessed Restaurant 365 software to delete approximately 31 check entries payable to Lagniappe that she fraudulently issued from Client B’s account. BRITTON opened an account with NFCU in the name Lagniappe in order to deposit funds she embezzled from Client B. BRITTON used her NFCU Lagniappe account debit card to pay for personal expenses at retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Dillard’s, JCPenney’s, Old Navy, DSW, and at various nail spas. As part of her scheme and artifice to defraud Client B and, in an effort to conceal her conduct on December 30, 2018, BRITTON made false statements in an email to Client B’s managing shareholder after he contacted BRITTON regarding a suspicious check written to Lagniappe. BRITTON was terminated from Accounting Firm A on January 3, 2019.
BRITTON faces a maximum penalty of twenty (20) years imprisonment, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, and a $250,000.00 fine per count. Sentencing by U.S. District Judge Wendy B. Vitter is scheduled for October 29, 2019.
U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser praised the work of the United States Secret Service. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Supervisor of the Financial Crimes Unit.
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