Two former employees of an Edison-based law firm admitted to conspiring to defraud their former employer by improperly diverting more than $788,000 from the law firm, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a news release on Monday.
Marla Deptula, 45, of Sayreville pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return, officials said. Rose L. Crabbe, 31, of Plainfield pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, the release said. Both defendants entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Deptula and Crabbe each admitted that between February 2005 and September 2007, they conspired to embezzle, and embezzled from their former employer by wrongfully writing checks from the law firm’s trust and business accounts to themselves and their personal creditors to pay for their personal expenses, including credit card bills, real estate taxes and child care expenses.
Deptula and Crabbe then mailed some of the checks to their personal creditors. They further admitted to attempting to hide their theft by altering the payee information in the law firm’s accounting records, the release said.
Deptula, who had access to the law firm’s bank accounts in order to perform her duties as a secretary in the law firm’s real estate section, used that access to divert more than $788,000 from the attorney trust and business accounts for her and Crabbe’s personal benefit. Deptula received the vast majority of the stolen funds and failed to report any of the income on her federal tax returns, officials said.
The conspiracy count to which Deptula and Crabbe pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The tax count to which Deptula pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2013.
Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Philip R. Bartlett; the IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan, for the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.