According to a report in the Bristol Herald-Courier Anna Laura Howell, 43, has filed notice in federal court that she intends to plead guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering – stemming from allegations that she diverted $31,000 from her most recent employer, Abingdon law firm Jessee & Read, to cover personal expenses.
The federal indictment says Howell began diverting money from the law firm just three months after pleading guilty – on June 4, 2007 – to charges of uttering, forgery and grand larceny in Washington County Circuit Court.
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In both criminal cases, Howell appears to have targeted employers she had known for years.
In 2005, when Howell went to work for Circuit Court Judge C. Randall Lowe, she reprised her job as his secretary from years before, when Lowe was a partner at the first firm where Howell worked. While there, she was charged with stealing more than $16,000 from Lowe’s office and personal funds.
It was her first run-in with the law, and a judge gave her a five-year suspended jail sentence, while mandating she pay restitution and perform 500 hours of community service. A relative paid the bulk of her debt, $15,000, and Howell rapidly worked off the community service by volunteering for cheerleading
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