Former State Employee Charged with Stealing $1.9M
Pamela Marie Dellis, a former auditor with the Minnesota Department of Revenue, was charged Friday for allegedly embezzling $1.9 million from the state with the help of two relatives through the creation of false tax refunds.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota, Dellis, 58, of Lindstrom, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of money laundering. Her sister, Nancy T. Sondrall, 55, of Brooklyn Center, and her niece, Laurie R. Sondrall, 28, of Minneapolis, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud for their roles in the scheme.
Prosecutors claim that from January 12, 2005, through September 17, 2010, the three women worked together to defraud the state out of $1.9 million through the creation of more than 200 false tax refunds.
According to court documents, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, part of Dellis' job as an auditor with the Minnesota Department of Revenue was to process tax overpayments. Dellis allegedly falsified records to create the impression that a taxpayer was owed a refund due to an overpayment when, in fact, that was not the case.
Then, she allegedly drafted a refund check or a “transfer of funds” made payable to her sister or niece for the false refund amount. Court documents say that Dellis used variations of her sister's and niece's names on the checks and transfers to make it more difficult to detect that the refunds were not legitimate.
Court documents indicate that Dellis and her co-conspirators sometimes used check-cashing businesses to cash the checks and then divided the proceeds. On other occasions, the checks were deposited into an account, in an effort to conceal the source of the funds, and then withdrawn and shared by the co-conspirators.
If convicted, Dellis faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison on the money laundering charge and five years on the conspiracy to commit mail fraud charge. The other two defendants face a maximum penalty of five years for their charges.
Dellis' first court appearance was not scheduled as of Monday. Her lawyer, Craig Cascarano, said Monday afternoon that he is uncertain if there will be a plea agreement at Dellis' first hearing.