Gravette Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement of Government Funds and Tax Fraud
Fayetteville, AR – Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, Tracey D. Montaño, Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation, and L. Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today that Connie Guild, age 52, of Gravette, Arkansas, has pleaded guilty to a 2-count Information charging her with Theft Concerning Programs that Receive Federal Funds and Filing a False Income Tax Return. Judge Timothy L. Brooks accepted the plea in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.
According to court records, beginning in 2005, Guild began working in the Benton County accounting department as an Accounting Specialist, and most recently as the Accounts Payable Manager until she was terminated in September 2016. Starting in 2007, Guild was in charge of the Benton County Travel Fund. This fund consisted of cash stored in a vault and was used to advance cash to county employees for approved travel. To receive the cash, county employees submitted approved travel request forms to Guild. Once the travel was completed, the employee would submit receipts to Guild that were reconciled with the travel request forms, and any unspent cash was returned to Guild to be placed back into the Travel Fund.
Periodically, Guild would compile the reconciled travel request forms and submit a claim to the Benton County Treasurer, who would issue a check to Guild payable to the Travel Fund. Guild would then cash the check, and the cash was supposed to be deposited into the Travel Fund vault, reimbursing the Travel Fund for the previously advanced cash.
Beginning in 2007, Guild began submitting false claims for the Travel Fund to the Treasurer, inflating the amount of money dispersed from the Travel Fund. As a result, the Treasurer issued checks payable to the Travel Fund in amounts that exceeded the amount necessary to reimburse the Travel Fund. Guild cashed the checks and deposited the excess funds into her personal bank account, where she used the funds to pay personal expenses.
From 2007 to 2015, Guild also failed to report the embezzled funds as income on her personal federal income tax returns. Count 2 of the Information charges Guild with underreporting the income reported on her 2010 IRS Form 1040, by approximately $118,560.00 in embezzled funds, resulting in a tax loss of $33,505.00. In total, Guild agreed that the total tax loss for all years was greater than $250,000.00 but less than $550,000.00.
As part of the plea agreement, Guild has agreed to a money judgment of $1,033,762.20, which represents the proceeds of her illegal conduct. Guild will be sentenced at a later date. As to Count 1, Guild faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. As to Count 2, Guild faces a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000.
The investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Brice R. White prosecuted the case for the United States.
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Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website @ www.pacer.gov