Great Falls woman admits embezzling more than $600,000 from former employer
GREAT FALLS — A Great Falls woman today admitted allegations that she stole more than $600,000 from a construction company when she was employed as its bookkeeper, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Nicole Ann Lopez, 37, pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Lopez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Chief Judge Morris set sentencing for June 9. Lopez was released pending further proceedings.
The government alleged in court documents that in 2013, M&D Construction, Inc., a Great Falls company, hired Lopez as its bookkeeper. Lopez was given access to the company’s business enterprise bank account. Between 2017 and 2020, Lopez charged more than $600,000 on her personal credit card accounts for mostly consumer shopping and travel. To pay her personal credit card expenses, Lopez directed approximately $611,000 in 72 payments from M&D’s business account into her personal accounts without the company’s authorization. Lopez’s embezzlement scheme was discovered when she purchased a small boutique clothing store, called Sora & Co., in downtown Great Falls, and resigned from M&D. A new accountant hired to replace Lopez reviewed the books and determined that more than $600,000 was missing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Starnes is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI.