A 57-year-old Collinsville woman was recently sentenced to federal prison for stealing from her employer.


Rosemary Wolf pleaded guilty on June 12, 2019 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was recently sentenced to 51 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant.


A written statement from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Easter District of Texas Joe Brown said that Wolf conspired with James Michael Murray to defraud Brakebush Brothers, Inc., a food services company formerly known as Trinity Valley Foods, Inc., out of $1,207,163.32 from March of 2014 through November 2015.


Bloomberg.com says Trinity Valley Foods, Inc. was founded in 1990 and focused on the wholesale distribution of poultry and poultry products. The company’s address is in Irving. A 2013 Poultry Times article said Trinity Valley Foods processes “raw, sized, marinated and read-to-cook chicken products designed for national and regional restaurant and further processors.”


Wolf, in her role as executive assistant, conspired with Murray to set up fake business entities with similar names of legitimate Brakebush customers in order to divert company funds to bank accounts held by Wolf and Murray. Wolf caused checks to be issued by Brakebush to the fraudulent businesses and provided the checks to Murray. Murray deposited the checks in accounts he controlled and shared the ill-gotten funds with Wolf. Murray and Wolf used the funds to pay for lifestyle expenses including gambling at Oklahoma-based casinos and costs associated with owning horses.


“Businesses are vulnerable to insider thefts like this because we all want to trust our employees, especially in smaller companies,” Brown said in the statement. “While companies have to rely on their employees, cases like this confirm that they should follow the old saying of ‘Trust, but verify’ as much as possible.”


In a request for a downward departure on her sentence, Wolfe’s attorney Sharita Blacknall said Wolfe pleaded guilty and attempted to help the government. Blacknall said Wolfe had, at the time of the offense, recently lost her father of whom she had taken care of prior to his death in February of 2014. She was also going through a divorce from her husband of 26 years at the same time.


“While she does not attempt to make excuses for her behavior and accepts full responsibility for her actions, she believes if these events had not occurred around the same time, she would not have participated in this scheme,” Blacknall wrote of her client.


On Aug. 13, 2019, Murray was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison for his role in the scheme. Both Wolf and Murray were ordered to pay full restitution to Brakebush in the amount of $1,207,163.32.


Anyone with information on other participants in this scheme are asked to contact law enforcement.


This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Davis Brooks.