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Virginia Accountant Admits to Stealing Over $1 Million From Client

Maria Reich, former president of On Call Accountants, pleaded guilty to eight counts of wire fraud as part of a plea agreement.

By Stacy Parker, The Virginian-Pilot (TNS)

A Virginia Beach, VA, accountant pleaded guilty April 12 to stealing more than $1 million from a client and using an additional $250,000 in COVID-19 small business relief money for personal bills.

Maria Reich, 45, former president of On Call Accountants, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Norfolk to eight counts of wire fraud as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, full restitution, forfeiture of fraud-related assets and a special assessment.

Reich’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 22. She remains free on bond until then.

On Call Accountants is a Virginia Beach-based business that offered bookkeeping, accounting and payroll services to small business clients. She used one of her client’s money for a host of personal bills and the pandemic relief money for a down payment on a house, according to a statement of facts submitted in the case.

From 2015 to 2019, Reich’s business account received payments totaling nearly $600,000 from a family-owned, Virginia Beach company that manufactures condiments. Reich also used the company’s money to pay off her personal and business credit cards, medical bills and a trip to Jamaica, among other payments totaling more than $600,000.

In 2018, the wife of the condiment company’s owner discovered patterns of suspicious outgoing payments, according to the statement. Reich committed the theft by writing checks and making electronic transfers from her client’s business account to her own bank accounts.

Also in 2021, Reich, on behalf of her accounting firm, received a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) totaling $500,000. The funding was provided by the Small Business Administration to help companies recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She used more than $93,000 of the EIDL for a down payment on a residence and tens of thousands of dollars more for mortgage, car and credit card payments as well as home improvements. She also made a $5,000 deposit into her child’s savings account, according to the statement. In total, Reich spent nearly $250,000 of the loan on personal expenses.

Reich is also facing a $3 million civil lawsuit. Dave Shotton, owner of the now-closed Freedom Surf Shop in Virginia Beach, hired Reich as a bookkeeper in 2017. He believes Reich mismanaged Freedom Surf Shop’s accounts and sent his finances into a downward spiral. Shotton’s lawsuit contends that Reich failed to pay bills, concealed information from him and misrepresented facts to vendors, banks, the state and the IRS.

When Shotton heard Reich pleaded guilty in federal court this month, he was relieved but is also concerned other businesses may have fallen victim to her schemes.

“Take a look at your books,” Shotton said.


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