FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A 52-year-old woman pleaded guilty Thursday to Embezzlement of Government Funds and Tax Fraud.
Connie Guild, of Gravette, pleaded guilty Theft Concerning Programs that Receive Federal Funds and Filing a False Income Tax Return.
According to court records, beginning in 2005, Guild began working in the Benton County accounting department as an Accounting Specialist, and most recently as the Accounts Payable Manager until she was fired in September 2016. Starting in 2007, Guild was in charge of the Benton County Travel Fund. The fund consisted of cash stored in a vault and was used to advance cash to county employees for approved travel. To receive the cash, county employees submitted approved travel request forms to Guild. Once the travel was completed, the employee would submit receipts to Guild that were reconciled with the travel request forms, and any unspent cash was returned to Guild to be placed back into the Travel Fund.
Periodically, Guild would compile the reconciled travel request forms and submit a claim to the Benton County Treasurer, who would issue a check to Guild payable to the Travel Fund.
Beginning in 2007, Guild began submitting false claims for the Travel Fund to the Treasurer, inflating the amount of money dispersed from the Travel Fund. As a result, the Treasurer issued checks payable to the Travel Fund in amounts that exceeded the amount necessary to reimburse the Travel Fund. Guild cashed the checks and deposited the excess funds into her personal bank account, where she used the funds to pay personal expenses.
From 2007 to 2015, Guild also failed to report the embezzled funds as income on her personal federal income tax returns. Guild was charged with underreporting the income reported on her 2010 IRS Form 1040, by approximately $118,560.00 in embezzled funds, resulting in a tax loss of $33,505. In total, Guild agreed that the total tax loss for all years was somewhere between $250,000 and $550,000.
As part of the plea agreement, Guild agreed to a money judgment of $1,033,762.20, which represents the proceeds of her illegal conduct. Guild will be sentenced at a later date. For Count 1, Guild faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. For Count 2, Guild faces a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000. This means Guild faces a maximum of 13 years in prison and up to a $350,000 fine.
This investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI.