Shrewsbury Bookkeeper Admits Embezzling $849,000
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri
ST. LOUIS – A bookkeeper from Shrewsbury, Missouri on Wednesday admitted embezzling $849,000 from a client.
Cora G. Willard, 47, waived her right to an indictment by a grand jury and pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey to one felony count of wire fraud. Willard ran a bookkeeping, payroll, and money-management assistance company called Red Hen Business Services. In May of 2019, Willard was hired to do the bookkeeping for a man who operated a money management business. The victim provided Willard with access to his bank accounts and financial records to enable her to perform her duties, including paying his bills.
Willard admitted that from at least Nov. 29, 2019 through June 10, 2022, she stole $849,000 from that client.
Willard made nearly 100 unauthorized wire transfers to herself from the victim’s bank account. Many of the wire transfers occurred after the victim asked Willard to close the account. In addition, instead of making tax and bill payments authorized by the victim, Willard sent those payments into bank accounts that she controlled, then sent false balance sheets to her client.
After the client discovered that he was missing large amounts of money, Willard blamed one of her employees, her plea says.
Willard is scheduled to be sentenced in July. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Willard will also be ordered to repay the money and has agreed in the plea to do so.
The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman is prosecuting the case.
Updated April 5, 2023