This week, Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a former bookkeeper for an oil company in Sulphur, Louisiana had been sentenced to 87 months in prison. 52-year-old Elizabeth “Missy” Istre of Sulphur, was sentenced to prison for stealing more than $4 million while working with the company. The defendant was sentenced on three counts of wire fraud. She will also serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution of $4,348,490.18.
Istre was found guilty following a four-day jury trial that ended on May 4, 2017. Evidence in the case explains that Istre worked as a bookkeeper with a family owned petroleum company. Between 2004 and January of 2014, she issued fraudulent checks made payable to herself and her husband from the company’s corporate account. Over that period of time, she issued more than 800 checks and used the proceeds for personal expenses.
She initiated the scheme not long after being hired by the company in 2004. Initially, the checks were written out in small amounts, but they gradually increased over time. By 2011, the defendant had started writing checks for half a million dollars each year. Istre was the only person using the business’ software and she delivered financial statements direct to the firm’s accountant.
Istre was able to hide her illegal actions, due to the fluctuations in the oil and gas industry. With the money, Istre purchased several vehicles, took numerous trips, paid bills, purchased property, and paid family members’ expenses. Again, the defendant has been sentenced to 87 months in prison for her crimes.