Federal prosecutors say a former payroll worker stole $1.2 million dollars from the small Washington, D.C. law firm where she was employed.
According to a criminal information entered Monday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the suspect, Tamika Beasley, maintained payroll records at James E. Brown & Associates between 2002 and 2008. The firm specializes in assisting low-income families with public education issues. Starting in January 2003, Beasley allegedly used her access to the firm’s checking account to transfer money into several of her own bank accounts.
Prosecutors say Beasley hid her activity by making fake entries in the firm’s payroll records listing the transfers as loans. To try and hide her tracks, she then added more entries saying the fake loans had been repaid.
The criminal information accuses Beasley of wire fraud. Prosecutors are seeking a $1,266,910 forfeiture.
Name partner James Brown said the theft has reduced his firm to seven lawyers from a high of thirteen. He also said that for years, employees went without raises, because it appeared the firm wasn’t making enough money. Brown said the scheme was discovered by chance after an office manager found original copies of the payroll records that Beasley had manipulated.
“Even the bank wasn’t aware or they would have notified me that something was amiss,” he said.
Brown provided the BLT with a copy of a statement he wrote last year for the Secret Service. In it, he wrote that Beasley’s actions had “put the very existence of this firm in jeopardy” and that he had been forced to fire 10 employees, including her uncle. Brown added that he was individually affected by the theft as well, because Beasley had drawn money from the firm’s line of credit, for which he was personally liable.
“[I]t will take me a life time and beyond to repay this money,” he wrote.