Date: January 24, 2020
BOSTON – A Lowell woman pleaded guilty yesterday in connection with embezzling approximately $182,000 from a veterinary hospital that employed her.
Sasha A. Saulnier pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton who scheduled sentencing for April 24, 2020. In August 2019, Saulnier was charged by criminal complaint.
Saulnier was employed by a full-service animal hospital as a client relations specialist from October 2011 until September 2018. During that time, she had various client responsibilities, including selling retail products to customers at the hospital. Saulnier also served in a temporary supervisory role, which gave her access to management software and the ability to manipulate account transactions and accounting data.
From March 2014 through August 2018, Saulnier entered false refund transactions into the company's management software, and then credited her own personal debit cards, which linked directly to her personal checking account. Specifically, Saulnier occasionally entered a fictitious refund for merchandise that was legitimately purchased by a customer, but never returned, and then credited the bogus refund to her own debit card. Saulnier also fabricated refunds for wholly fictitious retail purchases that were never actually made, and then credited that amount to her own debit card. In an effort to conceal her fraud, Saulnier used dormant accounts of inactive hospital clients, such as those with deceased pets and so-called "test accounts," set up solely for training purposes. In addition, Saulnier fabricated discounts which she applied to purchases of retail products.
Over the course of the scheme, Saulnier used her position to falsify approximately 482 transactions resulting in refunds and credits totaling more than $182,800 to her own bank account. Saulnier used this money for personal expenses and travel, including trips to Las Vegas, New York City and the Bahamas.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 or up to twice the loss involved, restitution and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Kristina O'Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation in Boston, United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, and Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey E. Weinstein of Lelling's Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.