East Bay Resident Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud, Bank Fraud, And Related Charges In Connection To Scheme To Defraud Employer
Defendant Also Admits Understating Income by More than $1,000,000
OAKLAND – Celia Nipper, aka Celia Arrand, pleaded guilty this afternoon to committing wire fraud, bank fraud, and filing false tax returns in connection with a scheme to embezzle funds from a real estate technology company announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf. The plea was accepted by the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., U.S. District Judge.
According to the plea agreement, Nipper, 61, of Dublin, Calif., admitted that while employed as an office manager, she used her position of financial control at a technology company to redirect funds intended for her employer to accounts that she controlled. According to the plea agreement, from 2005 to 2011, while Nipper managed her company’s accounts payable and accounts receivable, invoicing, and bill paying she opened bank accounts in the name of her employer without disclosing the existence of the accounts. She then directed customer payments to those accounts. Nipper also admitted as part of the plea agreement that she misappropriated funds from her employer’s legitimate corporate bank accounts. Nipper also admitted she used money belonging to her employer to pay for her own personal expenses and deposited employer funds into her personal bank accounts. Nipper further acknowledged that her scheme defrauded the company of more than $2 million.
In addition, Nipper admitted in the plea agreement that in June of 2008, on two separate occasions she overstated her income in connection with fraudulent mortgage loan applications. Further, nipper admitted that she filed false U.S. Income Tax Returns for the tax years 2009, 2010, and 2011. In each case, she understated her income, resulting in a failure to report more than $1 million and a tax loss to the United States of at least $290,000.
On April 7, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted Nipper by superseding indictment, charging her with three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; two counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2); and three counts of filing a false tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1). Pursuant to today’s plea agreement, Nipper pleaded guilty to all seven counts.
Judge Gilliam has scheduled Nipper’s sentencing for February 5, 2018. The maximum statutory penalties for wire fraud and bank fraud is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release. The maximum statutory penalty for filing a false tax return is 3 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 1 year of supervised release. Additional fines, forfeitures, and special assessments also may be imposed. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS, Criminal Investigation.