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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Former Bookkeeper Who Embezzled more than $750,000 from Orcas Island Couple Sentenced to Prison

Trusted with Bank Accounts and Credit Cards, she used Couple’s Money for her Personal Expenses for more than Ten Years

          A former resident of Eastsound, Orcas Island, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release for wire fraud in connection with her scheme to steal from her employers, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. SARAH ELIZABETH COFFELT, 42, who now resides in Seattle, worked for a retired couple and their business and non-profit entities as a bookkeeper from 2003 until she was terminated for theft in 2016. COFFELT stole more than $755,000 from the couple’s accounts by transferring money from their accounts to her own, by forging checks and by using business credit cards for her family’s personal expenses. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly ordered her to pay $788,886 in restitution. In imposing the sentence, Judge Zilly noted that COFFELT “spent 90% of her time addressing the Court feeling sorry for herself and her family, and expressed too little concern for the real victims of her crime.”

 

          According to records in the case, in 2003, COFFELT was hired to handle bookkeeping duties for the couple, and various entities they owned including Apogee Flight Incorporated, L.L.C. (Apogee) which owned aircraft and hangars, and the non-profit Heritage Flight Museum (HFM). COFFELT’s duties included handling the payroll for the couples’ house, Apogee and HFM employees as well as the bills for Apogee, HFM and other entities. Even as she worked as a bookkeeper, COFFELT and her husband owned Moon Glow Arts and Crafts, a store in Eastsound. COFFELT admits that she used money from her employers’ accounts to pay the expenses of the business, as well as other expenses such as trips for her family, her mortgage, her taxes and more than $30,000 in fuel charges.

 

          COFFELT was able to hide her embezzlement by having the couple’s bank and business credit card statements sent to her home so that she was the only person reviewing them. She used a company credit card to charge more than $30,000 for her family’s expenses, and allowed a maintenance worker to charge a similar amount.

 

          The case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Susan Roe.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated July 20, 2017