By United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Northern District of Georgia
Francine Fonger, 50, of Marietta, a law firm secretary who used her position to carry out an embezzlement scheme spanning well over a decade, was sentenced Friday by United States District Court Judge Thomas W. Thrash.
Fonger pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud on Aug. 9, 2012.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “While embezzlement can sometimes go undetected for many years, as it did in this case, this office is dedicated to bringing the responsible individuals to justice. Employers can significantly decrease their likelihood of being victimized in embezzlement and other occupational fraud schemes by implementing a variety of anti-fraud controls, such as those suggested by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.”
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Field Office, stated: “The financial loss that resulted from the defendant's criminal behavior speaks for itself. This was an extraordinary long-running fraud by an employee of a respected law firm. The FBI remains committed to the investigation and bringing forward for prosecution such egregious examples of embezzlement within the corporate setting.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Fonger worked as a legal assistant at a law firm in Atlanta for many years.
A retired partner at the firm, who Fonger was assigned to support, asked her to help him with various personal matters, including paying his bills and doing bookkeeping for him, in addition to her secretarial duties.
After performing these functions for a period of time, Fonger began using the partner's personal funds to make unauthorized payments to herself and to her creditors. These unauthorized payments took place from at least 1999 and continued until December 2010. At sentencing, the court found the amount of the loss caused by Fonger’s fraudulent scheme to be $832,890.35.
Fonger was sentenced to three years, one month in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $832,890.35 in restitution to the estate of the victim, who is deceased.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Alana R. Black prosecuted the case.