Criminal Justice

Former law firm worker takes plea in $197K embezzlement case

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A woman who worked for 13 years as a paralegal and financial secretary at a Lafayette, Louisiana, law firm has taken a plea in a $197,000 federal embezzlement case.

Michelle Dana Lavergne, 36, pleaded guilty to three counts of making or possessing a forged instrument. She could get as much as 10 years on each count when she is sentenced, according to the Advocate and a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Louisiana.

She also faces a potential fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

The government says Lavergne, who had access to the Clay Burgess law firm’s business checks due to her job, improperly wrote checks payable to herself and another employee. Prosecutors say she obtained pre-signed checks or forged the signature on checks she deposited into her own account. The checks were written over a five-year period from 2008 to 2013, in amounts which allegedly ranged from $350 to $5,500, but added up to more than $197,000.

The Advocate article doesn’t include any comment from Lavergne or her legal counsel.

ā€œIā€™m glad she did the right thing and admitted wrongdoing,ā€ Burgess told the newspaper.

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