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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Atlantic Beach Attorney Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that William Reid Penuel (37, Ponte Vedra Beach) has pleaded guilty to embezzlement from a bankruptcy estate. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and restitution estimated at approximately $151,000. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court records, between March 2015 and July 2015, Penuel was serving as the Chapter 7 Trustee in a pending business bankruptcy case in Tallahassee, Florida when he embezzled estate funds held in a bank account, in Duval County. At the time, Penuel was a licensed attorney whose office was located in Atlantic Beach. After becoming the Chapter 7 Trustee for the debtor, Premier Bank Holding Company, Penuel assumed responsibility for approximately $909,000 in estate funds, which he deposited into his bank account. Penuel began diverting estate funds, which had been authorized by the bankruptcy court to pay certain expenses, to his own use. As the authorized signor on the estate bank account, Penuel made withdrawals and then re-deposited the monies into other accounts that he controlled. Once the funds were placed into his operating account, Penuel withdrew the funds. The scheme involved over 20 withdrawals from the estate bank account, totaling approximately $151,239.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Jacksonville Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dale Campion.

Updated March 16, 2016