Accountant Sentenced to More Than Eight Years in Prison for Misappropriating $1.1 Million From Employers and Lenders

CHICAGO — A suburban Chicago accountant has been sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for misappropriating more than $1.1 million from four employers and three lending institutions.

PAUL ERIC COLLINS, 55, of Naperville, Ill., pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud.  U.S. District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo imposed a 98-month prison sentence Wednesday after a hearing in federal court in Chicago.  Judge Bucklo also ordered Collins to pay $1,159,414 in restitution to the victims.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.

“Collins stole funds from his employers, even though he knew that they desperately needed those funds to operate their businesses,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Stern argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “Collins stole from the victims for his own wholly selfish ends.”

Collins was an accountant who handled the finances for four employers from 2013 to 2018.  During that time, Collins stole more than $1 million from the companies by writing corporate checks to himself, his wife, and phony companies he created.  Collins also fraudulently withdrew money from ATMs and charged personal expenses on company credit cards.  He attempted to conceal the thefts by making Ponzi-type payments to certain victims.

Collins also stole more than $70,000 from three lenders by obtaining loans based on false representations.  Collins fraudulently used the identity of one of his employer’s owners and falsely represented that the owner personally guaranteed the loans.  When Collins failed to repay the full amount of the loans and the lenders sought repayment, the owner was left having to dispute the fraudulent guarantee.

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