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Press Release

Former CFO Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million Dollar Embezzlement and Laundering Scheme

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

BOSTON – The former chief financial officer (CFO) of two Boston-area companies pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston for embezzling millions of dollars from his former employers. 

Edward J. Abell III, 45, of Gloucester, pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Jan. 4, 2019. Abell was indicted on the charges in October 2017. 

Abell served as vice president of finance and later CFO 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. Between 2006 and his departure in 2016, Abell embezzled over $3.8 million from his employer by writing company checks to Pinehurst Tax Associates – a firm Abell owned. However, Pinehurst did not provide any services to Abell’s employer. Rather, Abell used Pinehurst as a shell company through which he channeled embezzled funds to personal bank accounts.   

In order to avoid detection, Abell 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 filed false personal tax returns with the IRS, which failed to report the millions he obtained through Pinehurst. 

In late 2016, after he was terminated from the marketing and public relations firm, Abell was hired as CFO of a Boston-based consulting and investment banking firm, where he continued his scheme and embezzled over $140,000.  

Abell laundered the proceeds of his crimes by moving the funds through different personal accounts and by purchasing property and other luxury assets. Previously, the government obtained seizure warrants for several of Abell’s assets acquired with fraudulent proceeds. As part of the operation, federal agents seized a property in Fryeburg, Maine, 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 maximum sentence of one of the money laundering charges is 20 years in prison, three years supervised release, and a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. The remaining money laundering charges provide 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. 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano, Deputy Chief of Lelling’s Economic Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.

Updated September 24, 2018

Financial Fraud