A woman who had worked as a receptionist at a Kearny medical office pleaded guilty last week to embezzling nearly a half-million dollars from her employer, as well as using fraudulent credit cards to make more than $200,000 in personal purchases, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Gwendolyn Muller, 53, faces up to 25 years in prison when she is sentenced in February.
Muller was said to be a former resident of Kearny. Authorities revealed neither her current address nor the identity of the medical practice where she had been employed.
She pleaded guilty Oct. 20 before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to one count each of embezzlement, credit card fraud and tax evasion.
According to prosecutors, Muller worked for a Kearny physician from 2007 through 2011, during which time she used her position to obtain and cash more than $446,000 in checks that had been paid to the medical practice by patients’ insurance companies.
Court documents noted that, as the receptionist, she handled the mail and had unsupervised access to the office computer system, which she used to conceal the embezzlement.
In addition, she fraudulently obtained 10 credit cards in the name of a principal of the practice and used these to charge at least $218,000 in goods and personal services. Muller also admitted to filing a false tax return to evade the payment of taxes on the illegally obtained income.
The embezzlement and credit card counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison; the tax count, five years in prison.
All three counts are also punishable by a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross loss or gain caused by the offense.
Under terms of the plea agreement, Muller is required to forfeit $556,000 to the United States.
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
– Karen Zautyk