NewsCrime and Courts


MT woman admits embezzling more than $400K from court-appointed clients

Posted at 3:00 PM, Mar 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 14:18:02-04
Russell Federal Court
The Russell Smith federal courthouse in Missoula (MTN News file photo)

MISSOULA – A Bozeman woman admitted earlier this week that she embezzled more than $400,000 from court-appointed clients, who lacked the ability to manage their own money.

Ellen Lorraine Van Ausdol, 77, told the court on Tuesday that she spent most of the money on gambling debts. She could face up to 20 years in prison due to the charges.

Van Ausdol ran a money management service called Fiduciary Consulting and Management.

According to court documents, the business provided money management services for court-appointed clients, many of whom have mental deficiencies and lacked the ability to manage their own money.

Van Ausdol pleaded guilty to wire fraud and to making and subscribing to a false income tax return. Van Ausdol faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch presided. He will recommend Van Ausdol’s plea be accepted by Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, who is hearing the case.

Sentencing was set for July 19. Van Ausdol was released.

An investigation found that Van Ausdol embezzled from her clients during a six-year period that started in about 2010 and ended in April 2016. Van Ausdol told law enforcement that she used the majority of the money to cover her gambling expenses.

In addition, Van Ausdol’s theft resulted in her owing the IRS additional income tax for the six-year period. In one of the tax counts, Van Ausdol signed a tax return for 2014, omitting the total amount of income from embezzled funds for that year.

The parties have not resolved the total fraud loss or tax loss and will address those issues at sentencing. The prosecution is alleging the fraud loss is $444,000 and the income tax loss is $52,894.