Boyds man pleads guilty to embezzlement
Prosecutors: More than $2.7M stolen from Gaithersburg company
A Boyds man has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $2.7 million from the oil distribution company where he worked for 30 years.
Ernest Theodore Solo, 60, of the 21700 block of Slidell Road, embezzled $2,447,000 from Chesapeake Petroleum and Supply Inc. in Gaithersburg between 2000 and 2008 by authorizing and signing company checks made payable to himself or to a bank that held the mortgage to one of his properties, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland.
Solo also stole $333,000 from Chesapeake Petroleum's petty cash fund, which he had exclusive control over, by writing fraudulent checks during the same time period, according to the statement. He tried to hide the embezzlement by falsifying and destroying financial records and hiding the fraud from outside auditors hired by the company.
Solo began working for the company in 1969 and was promoted to chief financial officer in 1990, according to online court records. He held the position until 2009.
"My client is extremely remorseful and is doing everything in his power to pay all the money back," said Solo's Rockville-based attorney Barry Helfand. "When he does it is likely he will be penniless."
Solo is retired, Helfand said.
Representatives of Chesapeake Petroleum did not return a call for comment.
Solo pleaded guilty to wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on Monday and is scheduled to be sentenced July 19, according to the statement. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss associated with the crime.
The charges are connected with the federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established by President Barack Obama in November 2009 to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.
Chesapeake Petroleum filed a civil lawsuit against Solo in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville on March 3, charging the former employee with breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation of facts, two counts of unjust enrichment and three counts of fraud, according to an online state court records database. The company also asked for a restraining order against Solo.
A hearing on the case is scheduled for May 12.