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Press Release

Former Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud And Tax Evasion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – CAROLYN DAWSON, of Oklahoma City, has pled guilty to using interstate wire communications to defraud her former employer, American Plant Products, and to evading federal payroll taxes, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Until November of 2011, Dawson worked as the bookkeeper for American Plant Products, an Oklahoma City wholesaler of greenhouse and garden supplies. Her duties included maintaining payroll, preparing payroll tax returns, and paying withheld taxes to the IRS. According to a criminal information filed on December 18, 2012, Dawson defrauded the business by using interstate wire communications to pay personal credit card expenses from a business bank account, without the knowledge of the business or its owners. The information also alleges that she treated these payments as business-related expenses to disguise her embezzlement. These payments took place from January of 2007 until November 25, 2011, when Dawson was terminated.

In a separate count, the information alleges that Dawson willfully evaded federal payroll taxes by failing to file a 2010 payroll tax return for the company, failing to make payroll withholding payments to the IRS, and altering the books and records of American Plant Products to conceal her failure to make withholding payments.

Today, Dawson pled guilty to both counts. In a plea agreement, she agreed to pay $1,194,656.15 in restitution to American Plant Products. She has also agreed to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, including restitution for her failure to pay personal income taxes on the embezzled money. The plea agreement provides that the loss to the IRS is more than $200,000 and less than $1,000,000.

Dawson’s punishment for wire fraud could be as much as twenty years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Her punishment for tax evasion could be as much as five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and an additional $250,000 fine. Sentencing will take place in approximately ninety days.

These charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott E. Williams.

Reference is made to court filings for further information.

Updated December 15, 2014