Bookkeeper pleads guilty in $1.8M embezzlement scheme

Keywords Accounting / IRS / Law / Legal Issues

A Shelby County woman has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and tax evasion after being accused of embezzling $1.8 million from her employer and failing to pay $463,000 in income taxes.

Julie Ann Ashman, 43, of Fairland, faces up to 20 years in prison on the fraud charge and up to five years in prison on the tax evasion charge, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced Wednesday.

Ashman worked as a bookkeeper at a small business that specialized in repairing and refurbishing X-ray medical equipment.

Court documents do not name the company but describe it as a southern Indiana small business that was half-owned by an individual who lived in or near Indianapolis and half-owned by another person who resided in Independence, Kentucky.

Ashman, who worked from her home and was married but separated from the owner who lived in the Indianapolis area, was responsible for recording deposits and payments in the company’s ledger. She also had access to the company’s checkbook. 

Over a period of four-plus years, charging documents say, Ashman secretly siphoned company funds to her own bank account by cutting checks to herself for between $3,000 and $5,000 up to 15 times per month.

In all, she wrote 436 company checks to herself for more than $1.8 million, then tried to hide the transactions by underreporting the company’s revenue and making the personal payouts look like business expenses.

Her scheme led the company’s owners and its accountant to believe the business was barely profitable, court documents say.

Ashman failed to report her gains to the IRS or pay taxes on the money she stole, leading to the tax evasion charges.

A plea agreement recommends Ashman receive a prison term at the low end of advisory guidelines if she remains out of other legal trouble and makes arrangements to pay full restitution to the company and the IRS.

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