GREAT FALLS — A woman admitted in federal court in Great Falls on Monday that she stole more than $600,000 from a construction company when she was employed as its bookkeeper.
U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release that 37-year-old Nicole Ann Lopez pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Prosecutors alleged that in 2013, M&D Construction, Inc. hired Lopez as its bookkeeper. Lopez was given access to the company’s business enterprise bank account. Between 2017 and 2020, Lopez charged more than $600,000 on her personal credit card accounts for mostly consumer shopping and travel.
To pay her personal credit card expenses, Lopez directed approximately $611,000 in 72 payments from M&D’s business account into her personal accounts without the company’s authorization.
Court documents state:
Between January 2017 and January 2020, defendant Lopez charged over $600,000 on her personal Capital One credit card accounts. Her expenses focused mostly on consumer shopping and travel, and included over $80,000 on purchases from Amazon, over $115,000 on general retail purchases, over $46,000 on clothing, over $57,000 on travel, over $34,000 on restaurants, over $24,000 on beauty products, over $12,000 on furniture, and over $7,000 on plastic surgery.
Lopez’s embezzlement scheme was discovered when she purchased a small boutique clothing store, called Sora & Co., in downtown Great Falls, and resigned from M&D.
A new accountant hired to replace Lopez reviewed the books and determined that more than $600,000 was missing.
Lopez faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled sentencing for June 9. Lopez was released pending further proceedings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Starnes is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI.