Former controller of California company sentenced for embezzling $1.27 million
GAINESVILLE, Ga. - Jeanette Elizabeth Ford has been sentenced for embezzling over $1.27 million from her now-bankrupt former employer, Classic Party Rentals (CPR). Ford was convicted of wire fraud on May 14, 2018, after she pleaded guilty to a criminal information.
“Ford abused her position of trust and embezzled a startling amount of money from her employer,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Over 15 months, Ford managed to steal and spend over $1.2 million -- on expensive vacations, the renovation and furnishing of a mountain home, and personal items for herself and her family. Now Ford is going to federal prison and has been ordered to pay restitution to the victims.”
“Ford worked in a position of trust for a company that expected her to honor that trust,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Instead she chose to abuse it and her personal greed not only hurt the company, but everyone who worked for them. They will never be made whole but can take some solace in the fact that Ford is paying for her crimes.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: In 2015 and 2016, Ford was employed as an operations controller in the accounting and finance department at CP OpCo, LLC, d/b/a Classic Party Rentals. Prior to its liquidation and sale in mid-2017, CPR was one of the nation’s largest event rental companies. CPR operated throughout the United States under the names of Classic Tents, Ducky-Bob’s, Panache, Festive Fare, and Capital Party Rentals. Although CPR was headquartered in Inglewood, California, Ford worked remotely from her home in Blue Ridge, Georgia.
As part of her job as a controller at CPR, Ford was responsible for reconciling and recording employees’ corporate credit card transactions within CPR’s accounting records. Ford used her authority and access as an operations controller to circumvent company controls and charge over $1.27 million in unauthorized personal expenses, for herself and her family, to a corporate credit card issued in her name. In her position, she was able to hide her unauthorized charges from her colleagues and supervisors at CPR.
Ford manipulated transaction reports from MasterCard, the corporate credit card company, by deleting the unauthorized transactions from MasterCard spreadsheets and then presenting the manipulated data to conceal the credit card transactions. Ford also recorded fraudulent entries within the accounting system. The corporate credit card company would automatically debit a cash account when CPR’s total credit card transactions reached a certain threshold.
As bank reconciliations were performed at the end of each month, these cash transactions were recorded by crediting cash and debiting the credit card liability. Ford would use her ability and access to post entries within the system and record the fraudulent journal entries. These entries were then used to change the balance of the credit card liability in order to reconcile the credit card file that she manipulated. Ford also circumvented CPR policy by not linking her company credit card to CPR’s expense reporting software.
Jeanette Elizabeth Ford, 46, of Blue Ridge, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Ford has also been ordered to pay $1,274,907.36 in restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John S. Ghose, Alex Sistla, and Kelly Connors prosecuted the case. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.