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Press Release

Controller Sentenced for Embezzling $550,000 from Providence Small Business

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

PROVIDENCE – The controller for a high-technology electronics manufacturer in Providence that has been in business for nearly 90 years was sentenced today to 33 months in federal prison and ordered to pay back more than a half-million dollars she embezzled from the small business. 

 Jill Martinho, 43, of Swansea, Mass., who was employed by Walco Electric Company for approximately 13 years beginning in 2005, was also ordered to pay the IRS more than $185,000 in back taxes, having failed to claim the embezzled funds on her tax returns.

Martinho pleaded guilty on April 1, 2019, to wire fraud and willfully making a false tax return.

According to information presented to the Court, Martinho was entrusted by the owner of Walco Electric to manage all of the company’s finances, including signing company checks, managing bank accounts, borrowing on the company’s line of credit, payroll, and creating monthly financial statements.

Ms. Martinho was also authorized to purchase supplies necessary for the company with the use of personal credit cards. She perpetrated the fraud by obtaining reimbursement twice for some purchases and by obtaining reimbursement for completely fictitious expenses.

From May 2015 through February 2018, although Martinho was entitled to reimbursements from the company totaling approximately $459,224, based on her fraudulent claims, including the use of fraudulently created card statements, she received approximately $1,017,295 from the company, causing the company a loss of approximately $557,974.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith ordered Martinho to serve 33 months in federal prison to be followed by 3 years supervised release. Martinho was ordered to pay $557,974 in restitution to her former employer, of which $100,000 has already been reimbursed, and $185,466 owed to the IRS.

Martinho’s sentence is announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Kristina O'Connell, and Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service Stephen Marks.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.

The matter was investigated by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the United States Secret Service.




Jim Martin
(401) 709-5357

Updated July 19, 2019

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 19-91