From White Collar Crime Fighter: Why Were Law Partners Unaware That None of Them Was Signing Disbursement Checks?

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New Orleans, LA. Lisa Mayerhafer, a former administrator for the New Orleans law firm Gertler, Gertler, Vincent and Plotkin, was charged with stealing more than $200,000 in a bank fraud scheme over several years.

Background: According to federal court documents, Mayerhafer worked for the firm as an office administrator from 1997 to April 2007. Her job duties included paying the firm’s bills and making deposits into its bank accounts.

The scheme: Mayerhafer allegedly diverted money from the firm by underreporting the amount of money she deposited into the firm’s bank account and recording the lower amount onto the firm’s ledger. The alleged scheme allowed Mayerhafer to steal the difference but also balance the account.
Exploiting partner control weaknesses: Mayerhafer allegedly forged the signatures of firm partners on firm checks, making them payable to herself and then depositing funds into her personal bank account.

The cover up: Mayerhafer reportedly concealed the scheme by intercepting the firm’s monthly bank statements and then destroying copies of the canceled checks that she had made payable to herself with the forged signatures.

Mayerhafer is accused of forging more than 150 checks and embezzling about $220,000 during her employment at the law firm.

Court documents further indicate that by forging signatures on stolen checks and making the funds available for withdrawal, Mayerhafer also exposed her bank to a civil liability risk and financial loss.

The good news: The law firm’s trust account, which holds funds belonging to clients, was never compromised.

Mayerhafer faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of supervised release.

3 thoughts on “From White Collar Crime Fighter: Why Were Law Partners Unaware That None of Them Was Signing Disbursement Checks?

  1. Tracy Coenen

    Oh Michael… you have no idea how common this is, in many professional service firms. A dentist went three years without knowing that her federal payroll taxes were unpaid. I could create a list of horror stories like this for you.

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