Indictment Charges Pawtucket Woman with Embezzling $580,000
PROVIDENCE – A Pawtucket woman was arraigned in federal court in Providence today and released on personal recognizance, charged by way of indictment with allegedly executing a scheme to defraud her auto body repair shop employer of approximately $580,000.
It is alleged in the indictment unsealed today that Idalee Johnston, 47, a secretary employed at Ideal Auto Body in Cranston, devised a scheme whereas she absconded with the proceeds from approximately 190 checks provided to customers by insurance companies as payment for repairs to their vehicles.
It is alleged in the indictment that as part of the scheme, for two years beginning in 2016, Johnston either did not have some customers sign direct payment forms for insurance payments to be made directly to the auto body shop, or did not forward signed payment forms to insurance companies. As a result of her actions, insurance payment checks were sent directly to customers who, in turn, provided the checks to Johnston as a representative of Ideal Auto Body as payment for repairs made to their vehicles.
It is alleged in the indictment that Johnson devised a scheme to steal and deposit some of the checks, some on which she forged signatures, into her bank account. In other instances, stolen checks were provided to family members to be deposited into their bank accounts. Johnston instructed family members to deposit the stolen checks, withdraw the funds, and provide the money to her. In return, Johnston provided the family members with a small portion of the proceeds.
Johnston, arrested earlier today by FBI agents, appeared before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan charged with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Johnston was released on personal recognizance.
A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The arrest and arraignment of Johnston is announced by Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker and Terrence P. Donnelly.