Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DONNA MURRAY was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer to 18 months in prison for embezzling approximately $490,000 from her employer over the course of a year and a half.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Donna Murray’s employer trusted her to safeguard its money as Director of Finance. Instead of protecting her employer, Murray betrayed that trust by siphoning nearly half a million dollars from the organization’s bank account into her own pockets, even as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the nation’s economy. Not only did Murray spend her employer’s money on luxury purchases and other items, but she went so far as to doctor the organization’s general ledger to conceal her crimes from her employer and its outside auditor. Today’s sentence sends a message to those entrusted with authority that if you abuse that trust for personal gain, you will be caught, and you will pay a steep price.”
According to the Information and other filings and statements made in court:
From in or about December 2017 until her sudden resignation in or about August 2022, MURRAY was employed as the Director of Finance for a non-profit financial services trade association located in Manhattan. The organization, which has more than 600 institutional members, works to promote industry thought leadership, participate in industry advocacy work, educate members and stakeholders, and establish industry standards and best practices.
As the director of finance, MURRAY was the sole finance department employee and was responsible for maintaining the organization’s books, updating its general ledger, handling accounts receivable and payable, and providing the organization’s financial statements to outside auditors. Out of the organization’s 14-16 employees during the relevant period, MURRAY was also the only employee with access to the organization’s online banking accounts and the only employee with the ability to make wire transfers for the organization.
From at least October 2019 through at least in or about March 2021, MURRAY embezzled $488,177.24 from one of the organization’s bank accounts through 105 unauthorized wire transactions from the organization’s bank account to her personal bank account in amounts that increased over time. To conceal her fraud from her employer and its outside auditor, MURRAY leveraged her knowledge of the outside auditor’s practices and the organization’s vendors and vendor invoicing schemes to generate false, but plausible-sounding, entries in the general ledger. MURRAY also transferred money from her employer’s bank account to her bank account in amounts less than $10,000, which would have triggered bank reporting requirements. Finally, MURRAY altered a bank statement submitted to the organization’s deputy general counsel to falsely reflect that a wire transfer had gone to an employer-funded health plan instead of MURRAY.
After misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer’s bank account to her own, MURRAY withdrew from her bank account over $400,000 in cash on more than 347 occasions — sometimes multiple times a day — and used the remainder of the stolen funds for peer-to-peer online money transfers, personal loan payments, and consumer and luxury items, including Yves Saint Laurent and Michael Kors designer apparel; beauty, wellness, and skincare products and services; home furnishings and décor; online streaming and satellite radio purchases; over 180 Amazon orders; smoke shop purchases; and a $200 treadmill for cats.
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In addition to her prison term, MURRAY, 38, of Staten Island, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry J. Fang is in charge of the prosecution.