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Judge enhances sentence after embezzler fakes terminal cancer

A former employee of Southwestern Energy Co. was jailed for 36 months Wednesday after pleading guilty to embezzling nearly $450,000 from her employer and then asking for leniency by faking terminal breast cancer.

Kendra Walker, 28, submitted a fake three-page hospice report to federal judge Nancy Atlas in a plea for leniency.

But the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston noticed that the report claimed Walker had been diagnosed with “stage 5” breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute regards stage 4 as the gravest cancer.

An FBI investigation confirmed that Walker had never been a hospice patient. She also claimed she was treated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston but Anderson had no patient records for her.

Walker had pleaded guilty to embezzling from her former employer, Southwestern Energy Co., where she worked in the accounts payable department.

Starting in February 2014, Walker changed some vendor records by inserting her own bank accounts. She created phony invoices and the payments went to her accounts.

Judge Atlas said Wednesday that trying to trick the court with the terminal cancer story was "inexcusable."

Walker embezzled $452,025.56. The judge also ordered her to pay full restitution to Southwestern Energy Co.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.