Posted May 26, 2011 05:39 pm CDT
Hired in 2005 to work as a bookkeeper for a Virginia-based personal injury law firm, Diana Farmer-Forston allegedly embezzled $567,000 of Bennett and Zydron’s funds over the past four years.
Now 54, she has been charged with forgery in federal court in Norfolk and accused of using the money to buy a BMW and fund a Merrill Lynch investment account, reports the Virginian-Pilot. She allegedly deposited 210 forged law firm checks into her own personal account.
The 1999 vehicle, four computers, a 55-inch television and a locked safe were seized in a search of her home earlier this year. Farmer-Forston has been jailed since March on state charges, which are expected to be dismissed. She quit her job at the law firm in February.
The article says a shortage in a corporate account drew the firm’s attention to the alleged embezzlement, and it conducted an audit to confirm the extent of the loss and notified police.
This is the fourth time in three years that a local law firm employee has been accused of embezzlement, according to the newspaper; three earlier cases resulted in convictions.
As earlier ABAJournal.com posts detail, such thefts also have occurred repeatedly at law firms elsewhere, and some law firms simply opt to keep quiet about the employee thefts, rather than face the adverse publicity likely to result from reporting them to prosecutors.
A post earlier this week, Ex-Office Manager Gets 4 Years for Skimming $502K from Law Firm Accounts, links to news of convictions in two other cases last month.
And there have been many more such cases. Among them:
Office Mgr Accused of Using Law Firm Checks to Pay $218K in Credit Card Bills (with links to news of four other sentencings in 2010)
Yet Another Law Firm Employee Is Accused in Claimed Embezzlement (with links to 2009 news of three more cases)