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Passaic County Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Client Funds and Tax Evasion

Pompton Lakes

By: Richard L. Smith 

Federal law enforcement officials said Richard Winter, 53, from Pompton Lakes in Passaic County, has admitted to his involvement in an embezzlement scheme through his bookkeeping business.AdThis announcement was made Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

Winter entered his guilty plea before The Honorable U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court, facing charges of one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.

Court documents and statements made clear that from January 2016 to December 2019, while employed as a bookkeeper for various companies, Winter orchestrated a scheme to illicitly misappropriate hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients.

His fraudulent methods included authorizing bank wire transfers from victim companies, redirecting vendor payments to his own bank accounts through an online payment portal, and issuing checks payable to "cash" from these companies, subsequently depositing them into his personal accounts.

Additionally, Winter failed to file tax returns to report the income gained from this fraudulent activity for the tax years 2016 to 2019.AdThe wire fraud charge brings a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater.

Similarly, the tax evasion charge could lead to a maximum of five years in prison and a $100,000 fine or double the gross gain or loss. Winter's sentencing is scheduled for July 9, 2024.

This case underscores the serious consequences of financial fraud and tax evasion.