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Press Release

Bookkeeper to Plead Guilty to Embezzling $749,000; Fraudulently Collecting TDI

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – A former bookkeeper/office manager for a Rhode Island law firm, accused of embezzling more than $740,000 from her employer and fraudulently collecting nearly $20,000 in temporary disability insurance payments, will plead guilty to bank fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft charges, according to signed documents filed today in federal court in Providence.

According to an information and plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court, Sarah Gaulin, 39, a former employee of the law firm of Hamel, Waxler, Allen and Collins (HWAC), allegedly devised and executed schemes to obtain law firm funds by preparing and cashing HWAC checks made payable to herself, which included the signature of a law firm partner which Gaulin signed without authorization; preparing HWAC checks payable to her own creditors; and preparing HWAC checks payable to law firm credit card companies for personal purchases she made.

It is alleged that from at least January 2012 to May 2019, Gaulin defrauded HWAC of approximately $740,953.

It is alleged in court documents that, in a separate scheme, Gaulin submitted fraudulent bank statements to a Rhode Island bank as part of a mortgage application she filed with the bank. It is alleged her submitted personal bank statements reflected a positive balance when in fact her actual account was routinely overdrawn. Additionally, it is alleged that she reflected her rent was among her monthly expenses she paid when in fact she had been using funds she illegally obtained from HWAC to make the payments.

In a third scheme, as detailed in court documents, it is alleged that from March 26, 2016, to July, 23, 2016, and from May 5, 2018, to August 11, 2018, Gaulin fraudulently collected approximately $19,588 in temporary disability insurance payments from the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training by claiming she was unable to work due to injury or illness. Gaulin, in fact, remained employed during the time she was collecting the benefits.

According to a plea agreement filed with the court, Gaulin will plead guilty to an information charging her with two counts of bank fraud, and one count each of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police Colonel James M. Manni, and Christina D. Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General.

An information is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dulce Donovan.

The matter was investigated by Rhode Island State Police and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General.



Jim Martin
(401) 709-5357

Updated September 9, 2020

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 20-112