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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Public Relations Firm Employee Sentenced To 18 Months In Federal Prison For Embezzling More Than $772,000 From Employer

DALLAS — Marci Johnson, 46, of Kaufman, Texas, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis to 18 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $772,000 from her employer, Spaeth Communications.  Judge Solis also ordered that Johnson serve a one-year term of supervised release with the first six months served in home confinement with electronic monitoring.  The Court also ordered that Johnson pay restitution of $772,829.  Prior to sentencing, Johnson paid the full amount of restitution to the clerk’s registry, and Judge Solis, as part of sentencing, ordered that the money be disbursed to the victim.  Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Johnson pleaded guilty in June 2013 to an Information charging one count of mail fraud.  According to documents filed in the case, from at least August 2003 to March 2011, Johnson embezzled $772,829 from Spaeth Communications of Dallas.  During part of that time, Johnson was the company’s Chief Administrative Officer, and in that role, had access to its company checks and company credit cards.  Based on her long-standing working relationship with the company’s owner, Johnson occupied a position of trust that provided her substantial discretion over the company’s bank accounts.

Johnson admitted using her corporate American Express card for numerous personal charges, such as dining, department stores and entertainment.  In addition, she used company checks to pay for outstanding charges on the company’s American Express bill, including charges she made for personal expenses.  She also wrote company checks to cover charges on her personal credit cards.  In fact, Johnson admitted that she wrote company checks to Citibank, her personal credit card provider, to cover the cost of an outdoor deck, hot tub, outdoor granite countertops and grill at her personal residence in Kaufman and caused false entries to be made in the company’s accounting software to prevent others from discovering her fraudulent purchases. 

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Nicholas Bunch and P. J. Meitl prosecuted; Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Childs handled the forfeiture.      

Updated June 22, 2015