Former Bookkeeper Who Embezzled Employers Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison and Ordered to Pay Over $3 Million in Restitution for Filing False Tax Returns
A former bookkeeper was sentenced today to 3 years in prison and ordered to repay over $3 million, for failing to report to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) money she embezzled from her employers.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.
Lauren Ransom, 49, of Deerfield Beach, was sentenced to 36 months in prison, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, in Fort Lauderdale. Ransom was also ordered to pay $2,245,402.13 in restitution to her former employers and $790,983 to the IRS. Ransom previously pled guilty to three counts of making and subscribing a false tax return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1).
According to stipulated facts filed with the court and information provided at the sentencing hearing, for over thirty-three years, the defendant worked as a bookkeeper at two South Florida insurance companies. Ransom embezzled money from one of the company’s business accounts where she used her signatory authority on the accounts and wrote unauthorized company checks payable to “Cash” and “Lauren Ransom.” She then cashed these checks or deposited them into her personal checking account. Ransom used the money to pay for her credit cards, mortgage and auto loans, insurance, and other personal living expenses. She also gambled and lost approximately $1,410,276.95 from December 1, 2008 to January 31, 2014 by playing slot machines.
Ransom concealed the embezzlement by altering numerous copies of these cancelled checks by “whiting out” and then changing the payee sections to create so-called legitimate business expenses for the insurance companies. The defendant created false hand-written entries in the companies’ cash disbursement journals, in order to further conceal the fraud.
In the stipulated facts filed with the court, Ransom admitted she filed false individual tax returns, Forms 1040, for tax years 2011, 2012, and 2013 because she knowingly failed to report to the IRS the money she had unlawfully obtained through her embezzlement scheme. The false statements resulted in tax losses.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randy Katz.