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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Boston Woman Pleads Guilty to Role in $2.7 Million Bank Fraud Scheme

BOSTON – A Boston woman pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston for her role a scheme to embezzle more than $2.7 million from Bank of America using fraudulent donations to non-profit organizations. 

Brianna Alexis Forde, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for Feb. 2, 2019. In May 2017, Forde was indicted with co-conspirators Palestine Ace, a/k/a Pam Ace, 46, a former Senior Vice President of Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management Division, and her husband, Jonathan R. Ace, 46.

From approximately October 2010 to April 2015, the defendants engaged in an embezzlement and kickback scheme to defraud Bank of America of approximately $2.7 million using fraudulent donations to non-profit organizations. As part of the scheme, Palestine Ace used her position as a Senior Vice President at Bank of America to misappropriate funds from a marketing budget and transfer the money to non-profit organizations. Specifically, Palestine Ace authorized 75 transactions, each under $50,000, to non-profit organizations in Boston and Atlanta. Then, the defendants, either directly or indirectly, informed the non-profit organizations that a substantial portion of the donated funds must be returned in order to ensure that Bank of America would continue to fund the organization. The non-profit organizations either wrote a check to Jonathan Ace or Forde, or they returned funds to a Bank of America account, to which the defendants had access. On various occasions, Jonathan Ace pressured the recipients of the donated funds to return a higher percentage of the funds to him, by using intimidation and threats of public humiliation.

Palestine and Jonathan Ace used a portion of the funds they embezzled from Bank of America to support their lifestyle and pay for personal expenses, including lavish birthday parties and the purchase of a $17,000 Kawasaki motorcycle. 

On Nov. 14, 2018, Palestine Ace was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $2,778,000 after pleading guilty in February 2018 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and 12 counts of bank fraud. On Nov. 15, 2018, Jonathan Ace was sentenced to two years in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $1,855,000 after previously pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and one count of engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction.

The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy each provide for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Boston Police Commissioner William Gross; Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil J. Gallagher of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.

Financial Fraud
Updated November 20, 2018