Ernest Theodore Solo, Chief Financial Officer Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Over $2.7 Million

GREENBELT, MD—Ernest Theodore Solo, age 60, of Boyds, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to embezzle more than $2.7 million from the company where he worked.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to Solo’s plea, from at least 2000 through 2008, Solo, who was the Chief Financial Officer at a local petroleum company, embezzled money from the company by authorizing and signing company checks made payable to himself or to a bank to which Solo owed money. Solo embezzled a total of $2,447,000 in this manner.

In addition, during the same time period Solo stole approximately $333,000 from the petty cash fund of the company. Solo had exclusive control over the company’s petty cash fund and although the actual petty cash fund never exceeded $1,000, Solo had multiple checks prepared that were $3,000 or more. After cashing the checks, purportedly for the petty cash fund, Solo replenished the petty cash fund, but kept the excess funds for himself.

Solo attempted to hide the embezzlement by, among other things, falsifying the financial records of the company; destroying records of the checks; and hiding the fraud from outside auditors hired by the company to review its finances.

Solo faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss associated with the offense, whichever is greater. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte scheduled his sentencing for July 19, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Su and Mara B. Zusman, who are prosecuting the case.