From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Woman pleads guilty to fraud [emphasis mine throughout]:
Shelia Mae Boone pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of federal bank fraud for writing one $1,000 check to herself on the account of the lawyer for whom she worked.
That lawyer is Harvey Latney Jr., who works part time as the commonwealth’s attorney in Caroline County in addition to his private law practice. Boone was his only employee.
U.S. District Court documents on Boone describe a period of at least two years when she was forging checks on bank accounts set up by Latney for money he was holding for clients and estates he was handling.
The single-check bank fraud charge replaces the three original counts against the 49-year-old Caroline resident — one of identity theft and two of bank fraud for allegedly forging two checks, one for $86,786.54 and the other for $185,000.
A statement filed with her guilty plea yesterday states that she stole a total of $92,930.42, including the $1,000. That leaves at least $178,000 not accounted for by Boone’s plea agreement or statement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael R. Gill declined to comment on the case.
So, where’s the money?
Boone’s lawyer, Arnold Henderson, said he agreed with federal prosecutors that the single bank-fraud count “was the appropriate charge to bring” against his client.
“I don’t know what’s truly missing from Mr. Latney’s accounts,” Henderson said. “My investigation does not reveal that Ms. Boone had any involvement above [the $92,930.82].”
Well, that answered my question…
George Chabalewski, counsel for the Virginia State Bar, confirmed last month that the bar has opened an investigation of Latney because of the missing money. Chabalewski would not say who initiated the bar complaint or provide other details.
Craig S. Cooley, the lawyer representing Latney in the State Bar complaint, said no suggestion of impropriety or dishonesty by Latney has emerged in that investigation or information developed in the Richmond Circuit Court case against Boone. The Richmond charges were dropped in favor of the federal case.
Cooley said Boone stole from Latney and from some of his clients.
“Her responsibility is substantially more than $93,000,” Cooley said.
And John Ames acted in self-defense when he confronted someone with two firearms and shot the person four times, right?
Boone’s statement says she wrote a number of checks on Latney’s bank accounts without his authorization or knowledge. She deposited some of the checks and cashed others, all for her personal use.
The two checks she was initially charged with forging were deposited into her account. Both were drawn on an account holding funds from the estate of Florence C. Williams, who died in 2002. Latney was the executor of the estate.
Members of the Williams family had been complaining at least since last year about how long Latney was taking to settle the estate. One of the city’s commissioners of accounts started looking into the complaints and eventually discovered money was missing.
Authorities have said they believe Boone kept Latney in the dark by erasing voicemail messages left for him by the commissioner of accounts, by accepting summonses to court on Latney’s behalf and not telling him about them and by writing letters forged with his signature in response to questions about the Williams estate.
Bank fraud carries a maximum possible sentence of 30 years, but Boone’s penalty is likely to be less when she is sentenced Feb. 8 by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson.