Civilian Employee at Aberdeen Proving Ground Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes in Exchange for Favorable Actions on Contracts
Baltimore, Maryland – Wendy Collins, age 46, of Woodbine, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud, in connection with a scheme in which she stole more than $4.5 million from her employer.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Postal Inspector in Charge Robert B. Wemyss of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.
According to her plea agreement, Collins worked at a national construction company (the “Company”) with projects throughout the United States. In 2010, Collins was promoted to the Company’s Vice President of Administration, and was responsible for managing the Company’s finances, including payroll, accounting, petty cash, health reimbursement account (HRA) and overseeing payments to the Company’s subcontractors and employees. Collins also had access to the Company’s bank and credit card accounts, including multiple American Express credit card accounts.
Collins admitted that from April 2012 through September 2016, she stole money from the Company in several different ways. Specifically, Collins caused unauthorized withdrawals from the Company’s petty cash account and HRA account transfers to her personal accounts, totaling at least $367,435.52; used $3,814,578.17 in Company’s funds to pay the credit card bills for herself, family members and others; and caused unauthorized increases to her company bonus checks, totaling at least $164,970. In addition, Collins approved invoices related to payments for construction work to be completed at her residence with Company funds, and signed a $25,000 check from the Company’s funds to be paid to a family member’s business.
In some instances, in order to facilitate and conceal the unauthorized credit card charges, Collins created fraudulent expenses and accounting entries in the Company’s financial ledgers and internal credit card reports, which she then paid with the Company’s funds. To further her scheme, Collins “linked” the personal credit card accounts held by her, her family, and her friends, to the Company’s bank accounts so that automatic payments would be made by the Company’s bank account toward the balances owed on Collins’ personal credit card accounts and those associated with her family and friends. Collins, her family members, and her friends charged luxury items that were paid for with Company funds, including: more than $90,000 at Del Frisco’s Steak House; more than $90,000 at Ethan Allen, William Sonoma and Pottery Barn; more than $55,000 for Washington Redskins tickets; more than $14,500 at a Napa, California Vineyard as well as $1,400 for beauty products at Estee Lauder and Kiehl’s Since 1851. Also purchased with the credit cards were: a Porsche 911 Carrera, a Porsche Macan GTS, a Mercedes-Benz G550, a Dodge Ram Truck, a Mazda CX-3, a Mazda MX-5 race car, as well as a Haulmark Trailer, using the Company’s funds.
Further, Collins admitted that she forged the signature of her longtime employer, the President of the Company, multiple times from 2014 through 2016, in order to conceal and complete the unauthorized increases to her bonus checks.
As part of her plea agreement, Collins will be required to forfeit the vehicles and pay a money judgment of at least $4,273,749.83.
Collins faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has scheduled sentencing for June 26, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Selden and Evan T. Shea, who are prosecuting the case.