Bernard Chung, 31, of Falls Church, was sentenced last week to a 37-month prison term for embezzling more than $400,000 from a law firm where he worked as an office manager, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Chung pled guilty to a charge of wire fraud in October 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Thomas F. Hogan. Upon completion of his prison term, Chung will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also must pay $407,062 in restitution and the same amount in a forfeiture money judgment.
According to the government’s evidence, Chung worked from 2009 until August 2012 as the office manager for North Star Intellectual Property Law LLC, a law firm that is based in downtown Washington, D.C. His duties included setting up the firm’s computer systems and network, creating a paperless environment, payroll, and bill payments.
Beginning in February 2010 and continuing until July 2012, Chung devised a scheme to defraud the firm, ultimately embezzling $407,062. He generated the money by issuing excessive salary payments to himself, inflating his regular paychecks, and other means. He was able to hide his activities in large part because his employment position authorized him to handle the payroll and accounts payable, creating a mechanism that he could exploit for his own financial benefit.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen and Assistant Director in Charge Parlave commended the work of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which investigated the case. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Donna Galindo. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ephraim (Fry) Wernick, who prosecuted the case, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Lucas, who assisted with asset forfeiture issues.