The Exclusive Newsletter for the Paralegal Community.

Former New Jersey Law Firm Employees Admit to Embezzling More Than $788,000 in Law Firm Funds

Two former employees of a law firm based in Edison, N.J., have admitted to conspiring to defraud their former employer by improperly diverting more than $788,000 from the law firm, to cover personal expenses, including property taxes, credit card bills and child care costs.

Marla Deptula, 45, of Sayreville, and Rose Crabbe, 31, of Plainfield, each pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.

Deptula and Crabbe each admitted that between February 2005 and September 2007, they conspired to embezzle, and did, in fact, embezzle, from their former employer, by wrongfully writing checks from the law firm’s trust and business accounts to themselves and their personal creditors to pay for their personal expenses, including credit card bills, real estate taxes and child care expenses. Deptula and Crabbe mailed some of the checks to their personal creditors. They further admitted to attempting to hide their theft by altering the payee information in the law firm’s accounting records.

Deptula, who had access to the law firm’s bank accounts in order to perform her duties as a secretary in the firm’s real estate section, used that access to divert more than $788,000 from the attorney trust and business accounts for her and Crabbe’s personal benefit. Deptula received the vast majority of the stolen funds and failed to report any of the income on her federal tax returns.

The conspiracy count to which both Deptula and Crabbe pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The tax count to which Deptula pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 25, 2013.