U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett Announces Sentencing of Indianapolis Woman After Bank Fraud, Tax Evasion Convictions
Fifteen-Year Scheme Bilked Hamilton County Company of Nearly $1.5 Million
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 13, 2013|
INDIANAPOLIS—United States Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett announced today that U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson has sentenced Michele Spurgeon to 60 months (five years) in federal prison and has ordered the defendant to pay more than $1.7 million in restitution to a victim company and the government. Spurgeon, age 58, of Indianapolis, was charged in July 2013 with defrauding an area business of nearly $1.5 million using a bank fraud scheme and was also charged with hiding those assets from the Internal Revenue Service through a tax fraud scheme.
“When Hoosiers steal from Hoosiers, we all lose—no matter if the theft takes place in a back alley or a back office,” Hogsett said. “That is why, together with our law enforcement partners, we are committed to doing all we can to hold accountable those who embrace a culture of corruption in our business community.”
Spurgeon admitted that from 1996 until 2011, she used her position at a Hamilton County business to orchestrate a sophisticated fraud scheme. The defendant would process all checks made payable to the company but would withhold some of these checks, not depositing them into the company's bank accounts. Instead, she would deposit these checks into a business account for a fraudulent company that Spurgeon created as a vehicle for her fraud.
Court documents describe a number of ways that Spurgeon hid this criminal activity. In some situations, she would alter some of the checks payable to her employer, making them appear as if they were payable to her shell company. She also would make adjustments to her employer's accounting records to conceal these fraudulent deposits.
All told, Spurgeon deposited at least $1,429,326 in checks intended for her employer into this fraudulent account.
Over the course of the scheme, Spurgeon spent this money on a number of personal items. These included casino gambling, credit card payments, mortgage and home equity loan payments, utility payments, and cash withdrawals.
In addition, Spurgeon failed to report this additional money to the Internal Revenue Service. In 2007 alone, it is alleged that this failure to report resulted in a loss to taxpayers of $67,378.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary A. Myers and MaryAnn T. Mindrum, who prosecuted the case for the government, Spurgeon petitioned the U.S. District Court to enter a plea to the charges against her. Under federal law, the defendant must serve a minimum of 85 percent of her prison term in a federal correctional facility, and she was ordered to serve three years of federally supervised release at the end of her prison term. In addition, the federal government may seek to forfeit some of the defendant’s property, including real estate, bank accounts, and retirement accounts.
This prosecution was the result of a collaborative investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department.