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Justice News

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Orleans C.P.A. Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Over $1.7 Million

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that PAUL E. GARDNER, age 57, a resident of New Orleans, pled guilty today to wire fraud regarding an embezzlement scheme which took place during GARDNER’s employment with Clovelly Oil Co., L.L.C. (“Clovelly Oil”).

According to court documents, GARDNER operated an accounting, consulting, and tax preparation business under the name Paul E. Gardner, C.P.A. for the past thirty years.  In October 2007, Clovelly Oil hired GARDNER as a part-time bookkeeper.  GARDNER was responsible for recording the receipts and disbursements for Clovelly and preparing the royalty checks for Clovelly’s more than two-hundred owners.  In addition, GARDNER handled the bi-weekly payroll for all of Clovelly’s employees and he was responsible for paying himself.

Beginning in August 2010, and continuing until his termination in May 2014, GARDNER embezzled $1,798,000 from Clovelly Oil by manipulating the bi-weekly payroll records of Clovelly.  Every two weeks, GARDNER logged into Clovelly’s on-line bank accounting system using his username and password given to him so he could prepare Clovelly’s payroll and increased his bi-weekly compensation by sometimes as much as $20,000.  GARDNER diverted the illegally obtained funds into bank accounts held by the defendant.  According to the Bill of Information, GARDNER used the embezzled funds to satisfy gambling debts incurred at a New Orleans casino.

The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to the victim.  U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown set sentencing on April 23, 2015.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter.   Fraud Unit Chief, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated September 2, 2015