HUNTINGTON — A Huntington accountant pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to three counts of bank fraud by embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from a client’s account, according to the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.
Kimberly Dawn Price, also known at Kimberly Swann, 60, faces a maximum of 90 years in jail and a $3 million fine when she is sentenced on Sept. 9.
Price faced an indictment of 28 counts of bank fraud allegedly committed during her time as a staff accountant at the Huntington-based firm Hess, Stewart and Campbell PLLC, which has since denounced its former employee.
Price was originally arrested in January 2016 and charged with 900 counts of embezzlement, forgery and uttering in Cabell County after an investigation was opened when the executor in charge of the trust for Elizabeth Caldwell, a Huntington woman who died in the fall of 2015, went to the West Virginia State Police after noticing the account was about $1 million lower than expected.
The 900 counts were dropped in the Cabell County court after federal investigators showed interest in the case.
“A thief is a thief,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in a news release. “I don’t care whether you are stealing money to pay your gambling debts or to donate to a charity, if you are caught stealing your company’s money, we’re going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the federal indictment, which was returned earlier this year, from 2009 to 2015 Price committed bank fraud by writing unauthorized checks from accounts of Standard Leasing Inc., Pharmacy Associates Inc., The Hewitt Trust and the Caldwell Trust, which she wrote out to herself or cash.
The indictment also alleges Price fraudulently transferred funds from the Pharmacy Associates and Arc M. and Ruth C. Hewitt Trust accounts to the Caldwell Trust to cover amounts previously fraudulently obtained from the account.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court, Price "paid off (a) vehicle, went on trips, helped her son start a business, paid off her (son's) student loans, supported her boyfriend and supported her gambling habit."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Virginia State Police led the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey handled the prosecution. U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing.