Sulphur company bookkeeper sentenced to more than 7 years in prison for stealing more than $4 million
LAKE CHARLES, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced today that a former bookkeeper for a Sulphur oil field company was sentenced to 87 months in prison for stealing more than $4 million while working there.
Elizabeth “Missy” Istre, 52, of Sulphur, La., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter on three counts of wire fraud. She was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $4,348,490.18 restitution. Istre was found guilty by a federal jury after a four-day trial that ended May 4, 2017. According to the evidence presented, Istre worked as a bookkeeper for a family-owned petroleum company in Sulphur, La. From 2004 through January of 2014, Istre issued fraudulent checks payable to herself and her husband from the company’s corporate bank account. During that time, she issued more than 800 checks and used the money for personal expenses.
Istre began writing fraudulent checks payable to herself not long after being hired in 2004. She started writing the checks in small amounts but then increased the amount. By 2011, she was writing fraudulent checks for half a million dollars a year. She was the only person to use the business’ software, and she provided the financial statements directly to the company’s accountant. Because of fluctuations in the oil and gas industry, Istre was able to conceal the stolen funds. She bought several vehicles, took numerous trips, paid bills, bought property, paid family members’ expenses, withdrew cash and made other transactions with the stolen funds.
The U.S. Secret Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly P. Uebinger and Dominic A. Rossetti prosecuted the case.