Crime

She stole to support her boyfriend’s drug habit. Now she’s looking at federal prison time

McClatchy

A former bookkeeper for two Windermere Real Estate franchises embezzled more than $400,000 from the companies’ bank accounts.

Cindi Allison was found guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma of six counts of wire fraud related to the embezzlement scheme, said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

Allison, 48, “used her unfettered access to the bank accounts of Windermere Puyallup and Windermere South Sound to embezzle $478,398,” Hayes said in a statement.

Windermere also has offices in Whatcom County.

Federal prosecutors said Allison, between 2011 and 2015, moved money from Windermere accounts to her bank accounts and those of her boyfriend, ex-husband, and service providers such as a roofer in Ben Wheeler, a town in Texas some 76 miles east of Dallas.

She told investigators she stole the money to support her boyfriend’s drug habit.

There were 782 illegal transfers from the two Windermere accounts to 16 different accounts connected to Allison, prosecutors said. She used her bookkeeping position to mask the transfers.

In March 2015, the owner of the two franchises decided to sell the South Sound location because it wasn’t “generating enough income compared to expenses,” according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

That’s when the scheme was discovered.

Allison had been working remotely in Texas at the time. The Secret Service began the investigation in August 2015. Her trial lasted four days.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison with possible fines ranging from $250,000 or two times the amount of the loss, according to Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Those are just the statutory maximums – under federal sentencing rules, judges consider a number of factors including the amount of the loss, the number of victims, the sophistication of the scheme and characteristics of the defendant,” Langlie said in an email.

Allison is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

John Mangalonzo: 360-715-2280, @JMangalonzo

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