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A former Hampstead resident who served as a “trusted” bookkeeper for a family business for 17 years has been charged in federal court with embezzling $1 million from her employer.

Lisa Fore, formerly of Hampstead, was charged Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on four counts of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, obtaining about $1 million through false and fraudulent means, according to a court filing.

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Fore, 48, was employed for 17 years as a bookkeeper/assistant for two individuals and several businesses, including The Cirelli Company, The Cirelli Family Limited Partnership, Triple C Development LP, 7111 Chamberlain Road LLC, St. Michaels Development Corporation, and 258 Providence Road LLC, according to court documents.

Joyce Wallace, a partner in The Cirelli Company, said in an interview Wednesday she is the daughter of the victims. Wallace said Fore’s actions affected many people in “large ways.”

“She was a trusted employee for a very long time,” Wallace said. “We were surprised.”

Wallace said The Cirelli Company manages commercial properties owned by the family and related entities. Their office is based in Severna Park, she said. Her father started the company, according to Wallace.

Court documents state Fore managed the payment of bills and invoices, prepared checks for handwritten signature, and sent them out to be mailed. From on or about September 2006 to July 2018, when her employment ended, Fore schemed to defraud the victims and Cirelli entities, court documents read. Fore is accused of repeatedly forging signatures on checks and cashing them for her own benefit, according to court documents.

Fore used the identity of authorized signatories to issue checks from the victim accounts for her personal benefit and put them in an authorized depository to be sent in the mail by the U.S. Postal Service, court documents state. The court filing mentions four specific checks, in reference to the mail fraud charges, issued between Sept. 5, 2017 and June 18, 2018.

Fore made out checks to various entities, including “the Commissioner of Carroll County,” the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., for the benefit of her and her “associates,” according to court documents. The documents did not identify any alleged associates.

Fore is also accused of making cash transfers from the accounts to various entities, including financial institutions, court documents read. Fore is accused of using the victims’ names in furtherance of her fraud, according to court documents. The aggravated identity theft charge was for using the identity of one of the victims, court documents show.

For two of the victims in the case, the parents of Wallace, “This has been very stressful for them,” Wallace said.

The company discovered the alleged embezzlement internally, according to Wallace. Since then, they’ve made some changes, though Wallace did not go into specifics.

“We are always trusting of people that we’re with every day and we can certainly be surprised,” she said.

Wallace is hoping the prosecution will bring the family closure, she said.

Fore is scheduled to make her initial court appearance in Baltimore on Nov. 20, court records show.

If convicted, Fore would have to forfeit all property that is traceable to the offense, including but not limited to a sum of money equal to the scheme to defraud, according to court documents.

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U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur signed the court filing charging Fore. An assistant to Hur named Baltimore attorney James E. Crawford as representing Fore. A call to Crawford’s office requesting comment was not immediately returned Wednesday.

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