Thursday, August 20, 2009

Employee Allegedly Assisted in Bilking $500k From the USPTO

Michael H. Reid, A Fort Washington-area clergyman, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal nearly $500,000 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with possible help from a USPTO employee. From the Washington Examiner:

According to court documents, the unnamed patent office employee was a financial analyst who had access to accounts in which customers deposited funds that later could be drawn down to pay application expenses. That analyst has not been charged, and the investigation is ongoing, a federal prosecutor said.

One of the patent employee's tasks was to process requests for funds from customers who had completed the application process, documents said. In his guilty plea, Reid said the patent office employee identified accounts that had gone dormant. She then changed the name on the accounts to Redeemed Music House and wired the cash to the company's bank account.

Court documents show that the patent worker stole a total of $534,338 over 32 transfers, 27 of which were to Reid. It is unclear from documents where the other $80,000 went.

In September 2008, the patent office contacted Reid and asked him to repay one of the refunds issued to him, he said in his guilty plea. Reid did so, paying back nearly $7,000.

In May, patent office agents interviewed Reid, and he admitted to receiving the cash from the patent office employee and returning the bulk of it to her in cash payments of less than $10,000 so as to avoid filing bank reports.

Reid pleaded guilty Aug. 10 and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. No sentencing date has been set, court records show.

Read the article here (link)

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