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Press Release

Former CFO of International Public Relations Firm Charged in Multi-Million Dollar Embezzlement Scheme

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

BOSTON – The former chief financial officer of an international marketing and public relations firm was charged today with embezzling over $3 million from the company. 

Edward J. Abell III, 44, of Gloucester, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy on Sept. 21, 2017.  


According to court documents unsealed today, Abell served as Vice President of Finance and later Chief Financial Officer of a global integrated marketing agency based in Boston.  In that capacity, Abell oversaw all aspects of the company’s finances and controlled all corporate bank accounts.  It is alleged that between 2006 and his departure in 2016, Abell embezzled over $3.6 million from his employer by writing company checks to Pinehurst Tax Associates – a firm Abell owned.  However, Pinehurst allegedly did not provide any services to Abell’s employer.  Rather, it is alleged that Abell used Pinehurst as a shell company through which he channeled embezzled funds to personal bank accounts.    


In order to avoid detection, Abell allegedly created fake profiles for Pinehurst within his employer’s internal vendor database and attributed all the fraudulent payments to Pinehurst as “Professional Services” in the financial accounting system.  Abell also allegedly filed false personal tax returns with the IRS, which failed to report the millions he obtained through Pinehurst. 


In addition to the criminal complaint, the United States obtained seizure warrants for several of Abell’s assets allegedly acquired with fraudulent proceeds.  As part of the operation, federal agents seized a 2015 Porsche Macan S, a 2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty, and an E*TRADE brokerage account all owned by Abell or held in his name.   


The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the criminally derived property.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 


Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Field Division; and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano, Deputy Chief of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.


The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.   

Updated September 20, 2017

Financial Fraud