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Press Release

Shelby Woman Pleads Guilty To Embezzling Over $410,000 From Employer And Filing A False Tax Return

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina
United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins Western District Of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Shelby woman appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Keesler today and pleaded guilty to stealing more than $410,000 from her employer and filing a false tax return, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Tara Gist-Savage, 40, of Shelby, N.C. pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Thomas J. Holloman III, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Chief James W. Buie of the Gaston County Police Department.

According to charging documents and today’s court proceedings, from 2008 to 2013, Gist-Savage was employed by an energy services company based in Belmont, N.C. Gist-Savage was in charge of the energy company’s payroll, as well as the payroll of an affiliated company. Court records show that beginning in at least 2008, Gist-Savage used her position to access the personal identity information of the companies’ former and inactive employees and used that information to generate fraudulent payroll checks and wires in the names of at least 49 individuals. According to court documents, Gist-Savage provided the fraudulent information to various payroll businesses used by the companies to generate payroll payments, and directed the fraudulent payroll checks and wires to four different bank accounts held in her name. In all, court documents indicate that Gist-Savage embezzled $410,936.04 in this manner from her former employer.

According to charging documents and today’s court proceedings, for years 2008 through 2012, Gist-Savage failed to report the fraudulently obtained income on her U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns. The estimated tax due and owing relative to the unreported income was approximately $101,650.

Gist-Savage has been released on bond. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. The filing false tax return charge carries a maximum prison term of three years and a $250,000 fine. As part of her plea agreement, Gist-Savage has agreed to pay restitution, the amount of which will be determined by the Court at sentencing. A sentencing date for the defendant has not been set yet.

The investigation was handled by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Gaston County Police Department. The prosecution for the government is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jenny Sugar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.

Updated March 19, 2015