Woman who embezzled from local lawyer pleads guilty

Federal Courthouse Texarkana

A Texarkana woman who embezzled about $100,000 from a local attorney pleaded guilty last week in federal court to embezzlement.

Ashley Meree Wilde appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven Aug. 25 for a change of plea hearing with federal public defender Kenneth Hawk in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas. Wilde worked for Texarkana attorney Howard Mowery, who offices on Texas Boulevard in Texarkana, Texas, from mid-2012 until she was fired in July 2014, according to court documents.

As part of her duties as a paralegal and office manager, Wilde had access to operating accounts of Mowery’s firm at Red River Credit Union and Regions Bank. In 2013, Wilde began drafting checks to herself to which she was not entitled by forging Mowery’s signature.

Wilde signed documents at the plea hearing which indicate she is liable for $95,000 in restitution to Mowery. Wilde’s indictment alleges she stole $110,000 but on documents signed last week, that amount is scratched out and the $95,000 figure is written in its place.

Wilde pleaded guilty to one of five counts of bank fraud listed in an indictment handed down in May. The remaining counts are expected to be dismissed at sentencing which will probably occur in about three months. Wilde faces a fine up to $1 million, up to 30 years in prison, or both.

She is currently free on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

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