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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Embezzler Receives Enhanced Sentence for Faking Terminal Condition

HOUSTON – A former employee of Southwestern Energy Co. has been ordered to prison following her conviction of embezzlement, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Kendra Walker, 28, pleaded guilty to embezzling $452,025.56. 

Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas found that Walker had obstructed justice and enhanced her sentence, ordering her to serve a total of 36 months in federal prison. In handing down the sentence, Judge Atlas noted that “this crime is inexcusable."

In an attempt to receive a more lenient sentence, Walker had claimed she was being treated at a hospice for a terminal condition and submitted a three-page report purportedly created by her hospice. However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office noticed that this report claimed Walker had been diagnosed with “stage 5” breast cancer, whereas stage 4 is regarded as the gravest stage by the National Cancer Institute.

The FBI investigated further and found the report Walker submitted to not be genuine. Further, Walker had never been a hospice patient. Walker also claimed to have been recently treated at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, but hospital representatives confirmed there were no records of her having been treated there. 

Walker had previously pleaded guilty to embezzling from her former employer, Southwestern Energy Co., where she had been employed in its accounts payable department. Starting in February 2014, Walker abused her position to access her employer’s accounts payable system and fraudulently changed vendor records to instead list her own bank accounts. She then caused Southwestern Energy Co.’s accounts payable system to pay invoices that, in reality, the vendors did not submit. Instead, these payments were transmitted into her bank accounts because Walker had changed the vendors’ bank account information. 

From February 2014 to February 2015, Walker embezzled $452,025.56.  As part of her sentencing, the court also ordered Walker to pay full restitution to Southwestern Energy Co. 

Walker was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu is prosecuting the case.

Topic: 
Financial Fraud
Updated July 20, 2016