Criminal Justice

Law firm bookkeeper got job despite prior criminal record, is now convicted in new $100K theft

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A woman with a history of financial crimes in multiple states got a job as an office manager and bookkeeper for a North Carolina law firm, after a background check failed to pick up her earlier convictions under a different name.

That resulted in a loss of more than $150,000 to the firm, Yow, Fox & Mannen, District Attorney Ben David of New Hanover County told the Port City Daily.

The firm’s now-former employee, Felicia Menge Kelley, 44, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of embezzlement and was sentenced to a prison term of between 82 and 111 months, the newspaper reports. She will also be required to pay over $145,000 in restitution.

Kelley, who has previously worked for other law firms in the Jacksonville area, was convicted earlier under the name of Felicia Dawn Menge, David said.

The Yow law firm first realized it had a problem when it discovered an issue with the firm’s trust account. In investigating that problem, the firm discovered that checks totaling some $10,000 had been written to Kelley’s husband, son and boyfriend, the DA explained.

It isn’t clear from news coverage whether those checks were from the trust account or an operating account. David said the personal payments weren’t initially noticed because they had been coded as if they were legitimate law firm expenses.

The firm went to Wilmington police in November 2015, and a forensic audit then revealed that $153,000 had been taken, the DA said.

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