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Press Release

Salinas Man Pleads Guilty To Embezzling More Than $182,700 From Carmel Golf Club

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

SAN JOSE – Neal Morton pleaded guilty to bank fraud, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.

According to the plea agreement signed yesterday, from 2009 through February 4, 2014, Morton, 50, of Salinas, was employed in the accounting department of Tehama Golf Club (TGC), a private golf course and residential community center in Carmel, Calif.  Morton oversaw TGC’s accounting department and was responsible for keeping TGC’s books and records. During this period, Morton devised a scheme to embezzle funds from TGC by causing TGC to issue checks drawn on its bank accounts with forged signatures.  Morton saved digital copies of TGC employees’ signatures who were authorized to sign checks and drafted checks listing himself as the payee.  To conceal the offense, Morton authored false entries in TGC’s books to give the appearance that the checks were used to pay for a valid business expense.  In addition to the checks, Morton also stole more than $100,000 in TGC’s petty cash fund.

Morton was indicted on September 29, 2015.  He was charged with bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2); and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.  Pursuant to yesterday’s agreement, Morton pleaded guilty to bank fraud.  Morton is scheduled to appear on October 24, 2016, at 1:30 pm for sentencing.    

The maximum statutory penalty for bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2) is thirty years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Newman and Jose A. Olivera are prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Updated September 20, 2016

Financial Fraud