A 53-year-old Canton woman who previously pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $1.4 million from the nonprofits she worked for has been sentenced to six years in prison, federal authorities said, as reported by MassLive.com
In addition to the years in prison, Nicole Lescarbeau, also known as Nicole Coulibaly, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Lescarbeau in December 2019 pleaded guilty to wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with an embezzlement scheme. Then a year later, she was charged again with a separate embezzlement scheme. In that case, she agreed to plead guilty on May 3 to wire fraud and bank fraud.
Officials said Lescarbeau, who at one point sought a pardon from President Joe Biden, stole money from two nonprofits for years. Federal records did not identify the nonprofits but specified that the organizations worked to feed the malnourished and help people with housing.
From August 2013 until her termination in January 2018, Lescarbeau took funds from her employer, a Boston-based nonprofit, officials said. She wrote unauthorized checks to herself using the non-profit’s accounting software and affixed the signatures of the authorized signers on the account, according to authorities.
Lescarbeau also repeatedly logged on to the nonprofit’s online bank accounts, directing unauthorized payments and transfers for her personal benefit and made unauthorized personal charges using the nonprofit’s business credit cards, authorities said.
In total, she embezzled more than $1.3 million from the organization, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
While on pre-trial release, Lescarbeau was hired as an administrator at a small, Brookline-based nonprofit. She did not tell the organization about her pending indictment and applied for the position using her married name to try to conceal the prior charges, officials said.
From August 2019 until February 2020, Lescarbeau took money from that nonprofit. Officials said she diverted checks to herself that the organization had issued for legitimate business. She also opened a PayPal account in the nonprofit’s name to make unauthorized wire transfers and made transfers directly from the nonprofit’s bank account to pay for her personal rent, according to authorities.
In that scheme, she embezzled nearly $57,000 from the nonprofit’s bank account, officials said.
In a sentencing memorandum filed by federal prosecutors, authorities said Lescarbeau stole from the nonprofits more than 700 times. She sent some of her money to her husband’s “overseas business ventures” but used much of the money on personal expenses, including dentist visits, clothing and $55.71 for a Papa Gino’s order, records show.
In January 2018, prosecutors said a colleague had asked about a $70,000 check that should have been deposited into the nonprofit’s account. Lescarbeau showed the colleague a doctored screenshot in an email that appeared to confirm the money had been deposited, officials said.
After being arrested in January 2019, Lescarbeau wrote to Biden requesting a pardon.
“I did the crime — yes, I admit it,” the letter read. “I am ashamed, embarrassed & remorseful…. I believed my husband too many times & it cost me my freedom & my integrity & my children. But it’s my fault. I am not blaming him or anyone else.”
The thefts caused the nonprofits to put charitable endeavors on hold indefinitely or abandon them completely, prosecutors said.
“The seriousness of Lescarbeau’s offenses cannot be overstated,” prosecutors wrote. “She treated her employer’s money as a piggybank to fund her lifestyle. This was not a single act of poor judgment. It was a pervasive scheme that lasted nearly the entirety of her employment at two different nonprofits.”