Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Spaeth Communications officer admits to embezzling money for years
Marci Johnson admitted to using the company credit card to pay for “dining, department stores and entertainment.”
Marci Johnson worked for Merrie Spaeth’s public relations firm since its inception in 1987, ultimately ascending to the title of chief administrative officer. And according to court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office today, Johnson spent at least eight of those years at the PR firm embezzling from Spaeth, the White House director of media relations under Ronald Reagan who is best known as the PR machine who powered the Swift Boat and advised Craig James during his tussle with Mike Leach.
Johnson has pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, stemming from a single $5,000 check sent to Citibank from the Spaeth Communications account. That money paid for “an outdoor deck, hot tub, outdoor granite countertops, outdoor grill, and other amenities at her personal residence in Kaufman,” according to court documents.
Spaeth Communications isn’t named in the docs. It’s referred to only as “S.C., a public-relations company located within the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas.” Spaeth says she can’t address the government’s case against her former employee, who’s been with the firm since its inception.
As you’ll note in the factual resume below, from at least August 2003 until March 2011 Johnson “engaged in a scheme and artifice to defraud her employer.” She did so by using company money to pay personal bills, which wasn’t difficult, according to the docs, since she had access to Spaeth Communications’ checks and credit cards.
“Based on her long-standing working relationship with S.C.’s owner,” says the factual resume, “Johnson occupied a position of trust that provided her substantial discretion over the company’s bank accounts.”
Johnson admits she used the company credit card to pay for “dining, department stores and entertainment,” according to documents; all of this was done without Spaeth’s knowledge. And since she was in charge of paying the credit card bill, no one else at Spaeth Communications knew what she was up to. And for three years, from ’08 until 2011, “Johnson wrote company checks to cover charges on her personal credit cards.” Most of those charges, according to the government, “were for personal expenses, such as restaurants, department stores, entertainment, and groceries.”
According to the plea agreement, Johnson faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of not more than $250,000 — “or twice any pecuniary gain to the defendant or loss to the victim.” The documents don’t say how much Johnson embezzled from Spaeth during those eight years.