A Cranberry Township woman is scheduled to appear next month in U.S. District Court on charges that she embezzled money from the Baierl Acura car dealership in Pine and used it to buy houses, cars, gold coins, jewelry and more for herself and members of her family.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Pittsburgh said Patricia K. Smith used her position as controller at the dealership to alter financial records and defraud the company over seven years by using electronic bank transactions and company ledger entries. She is charged with one count of wire fraud.
Court records indicate Smith may waive indictment and enter a guilty plea when she appears at a plea hearing set for 11:30 a.m. Jan 10. before U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond. She is not in custody.
According to documents filed in federal court in Pittsburgh, Smith electronically transferred funds from Baierl’s payroll bank account to one of her personal bank accounts between December 2004 and July 2011. She also altered the bank statements to cover the fraudulent transfers, prosecutors said in court documents.
Prosecutors charge that she gave falsified bank statements to outside accounting agencies that were reviewing the dealership’s books and records. To offset the losses, she also falsely inflated the general ledger vehicle inventory account balance and added previously sold vehicles into the dealership’s inventory computer database.
The total amount Smith is charged with taking from the dealership is not included in court records. The filing says Smith used stolen money to buy four houses, including two in Cranberry and one in Georgia, and other extravagant purchases.
Those items are subject to forfeiture, according to court records. Also included in planned forfeiture actions are about $170,000 in stocks, more than $20,000 in a personal checking account, 10 cars—including four Hondas and three Acuras—furniture, paintings, electronic items, a mink coat purchased in Alaska and about $33,000 in pre-paid travel funds with Delta Airline and United Airlines, court records state.
Smith has surrendered numerous items of jewelry, including diamond, gold and silver rings, pendants and earrings, according to the federal filing.
In a statement, Baierl Acura officials said they expect Smith will plead guilty and is responsible for the loss of “a significant amount of money from the dealership’s account.”
“A portion of the loss has already been recovered,” company officials said, adding that the loss was concealed “by manipulating the internal records and bank statements of the dealership.”
The company said the loss would have no impact on the dealership’s operations.
Pine-Richland Patch guest editor Katelynn Metz contributed to this article.