Seattle woman who embezzled more than $2.1 million from health club chain sentenced to prison
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
While employer was suffering from illness, 25-year employee transferred money from company accounts to her own bank accounts
Seattle – A 57-year-old Seattle woman who embezzled more than $2.1 million from her long-time employer was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to a year and a day in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Michele D. Sharar pleaded guilty on April 25, 2022, to wire fraud for the fraudulent fund transfers she made between 2014 and 2017, from the victim’s business bank accounts to her personal bank accounts. The victim in this case asked that Sharar serve no prison time. However, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said a sentence of incarceration was important because of the problem of bookkeepers and accountants stealing from small businesses. “These crimes happen so many times and do so much damage,” Judge Coughenour said.
According to records filed in the case, Sharar worked for Emerald City Athletics and Emerald City Health Properties for more than 25 years, rising to the role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). During a time period when the owner of the company had medical issues, Sharar began stealing money from the company to feed a shopping addiction. Over a period of three years, she stole $2,144,551 by depositing third party checks to her own account, transferring money from company accounts to her own accounts, and writing checks on company accounts and depositing them to her own accounts. Sharar then falsified the company financial reports to hide the fact that she had embezzled the money.
Sharar told her employer about the theft in 2018 and agreed to attempt to pay the money back. Today Judge Coughenour ordered $2,144,551 in restitution, and ordered three years of supervised release to follow prison.
The FBI investigated the case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Dion.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated December 1, 2022