Bookkeeper pleads guilty to embezzling over $29 million

In this image made by tilting and shifting the lens, a Department of Justice logo is shown on a...
In this image made by tilting and shifting the lens, a Department of Justice logo is shown on a podium.(ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 2:59 PM CST
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LEWISVILLE, Texas (NEWS RELEASE) - A Texas woman pleaded guilty today in the Eastern District of Texas for a scheme to embezzle at least $29 million from her employer – a charitable foundation and several other companies run by a Dallas family.

According to court documents, Barbara Chalmers, 74, of Lewisville, admitted that starting in at least 2012, she abused her position as bookkeeper for the family’s companies and her signatory authority over the companies’ bank accounts to fraudulently write herself at least 175 checks, which she deposited into her personal accounts. In order to conceal her fraudulent conduct, she provided false paperwork to tax preparers misstating the year-end cash-on-hand numbers for the various accounts from which she was embezzling. She used more than $25 million of the stolen money to fund a construction business for which she was the president.

Chalmers pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston for the Eastern District of Texas, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division, and Acting Special Agent in Charge James J. Dwyer of the FBI Dallas Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI is investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Vasanth Sridharan and Lucy Jennings of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.