crimes

Dallas, Georgia’s Heidi Royal pleads guilty to embezzling $800,000 from elderly widow with dementia

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Heidi Royal, 52, of Dallas, Georgia, United States is an accountant. Aside from Dallas, she has lived in other parts of Georgia including Acworth, Alpharetta, Canton, Kennesaw and Woodstock.

Royal worked for a wealth management firm in Atlanta, Georgia as the accounting manager and the bill-pay supervisor. Her employer was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an investment adviser.

While employed at the firm, Royal provided professional accounting services and bill-pay services for more than 10 years to an elderly widow. On June 1, 2010, the accountant from Dallas started misappropriating the widow’s money.

The widow is suffering from dementia. The names of the firm and the client were not released.

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As part of the scheme, Royal stole the annuity payments of her dementia-stricken client, wrote more than 200 fraudulent checks on the client’s bank accounts, forged the client’s endorsement on checks and withdrew cash from the client’s bank accounts and converted it to her own use. The accountant fraudulently used the electronic bill-pay feature associated with the client’s bank accounts to divert money to herself and used PayPal to make electronic payments to herself from the accounts.

Moreover, Royal impersonated the elderly client in telephone conversations with financial institutions and made false and misleading entries in the client’s financial records, making the fraud harder to detect. The accountant fraudulently used the client’s name and Social Security Number to open a secret bank account to conceal and disguise the fraud proceeds.

On March 17, 2021, the firm found out that checks drawn on the client’s bank accounts had been deposited into Royal’s personal accounts. The firm immediately fired the accountant from Dallas and reported the crime to law enforcement.

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A total of approximately $800,000 was stolen from the client. The case is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Russell Phillips and Elizabeth McBath.

On February 14, 2022, Royal pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. On May 31, 2022, she will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr

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