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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Law Firm Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty To Embezzling Approximately $1 Million

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – Patricia Ethel Chinault, 72, of Apopka, Florida, pled guilty today to embezzling approximately $1 million from a Carroll County law firm. Chinault previously lived in Carroll County and worked as a bookkeeper for the law firm. After she moved to Florida in 2009, Chinault continued to provide bookkeeping services for the firm.

Chinault had electronic access to the law firm’s accounts. Investigation revealed that she used that access to fraudulently divert money to herself from 2010 to 2014. Federal law enforcement agents became aware of suspicious activity on one of Chinault’s credit card accounts and subsequent investigation revealed the extent of Ms. Chinault’s criminal activity.

According to information provided to the Court at the guilty plea hearing, Chinault spent most of the stolen money on internet gambling. The government has asserted that Chinault will be responsible for more than $1.1 million in restitution. Chinault has admitted to stealing at least $960,809.

United States District Judge James P. Jones scheduled sentencing for June 4, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. Chinault faces a maximum possible penalty of up to twenty years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer is prosecuting the case for the United States.


Updated April 15, 2015