On Friday, it was announced that a 48-year-old bookkeeper of two Windermere Real Estate franchises had been sentenced to 71 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Cindi Allison of Ben Wheeler, Texas was sentenced on six counts of wire fraud related to an embezzlement scheme. The defendant used her unfettered access to the bank accounts of Windermere Puyallup and Windermere South Sound to embezzle $478,398.
When the scheme was discovered, Allison went on the offensive by filing spurious complaints with several state regulators to attack and distract the victim of her theft. During a five-day jury trial in June of 2017, evidence was presented that Allison transferred money from Windermere accounts to her own bank accounts and to bank accounts belonging to her boyfriend, ex-husband and service providers. Between 2011 and 2015, it was concluded that Allison made 782 unauthorized transfers from the two real estate franchise accounts to sixteen different accounts that she had some connection with.
Allison attempted to hide the crime by strategically bundling various transactions together in the records. The fraud was uncovered in March of 2015 when the new purchaser of the business began investigating some of the transfers and was unable to get a straight answer from the defendant. Allison worked remotely from Texas. The company shut down its computer system to protect its accounts. The impact of the fraud was greater than the amount of money embezzled.
To uncover the extent of the crime, the victim had to spend at least $50,000 in forensic accounting and attorney fees. Also, the sale price for the business was at least $100,000 below its true market value, because of the fraudulent entries in the company’s books. In addition to the 71 months in prison, the defendant has also been ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $630,346. Allison has been in custody since she was convicted following her trial in June of 2017.
Further details have been made available here.