SPOKANE, Wash. — The woman who embezzled more than $99,000 from Greater Spokane Meals on Wheels was sentenced to three years in federal prison on Thursday.
Michelle Ferrell, 59, took a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in February. As part of the agreement, Ferrell forfeited her home in Spokane Valley.
After Ferrell is released, she will serve three years of court supervision. She must also pay restitution of $99,871. She was immediately taken into custody to begin serving her sentence.
The judge allowed victims to speak and provide impact statement at Ferrell's court appearance back in July. About six Meals on Wheels employees spoke in court.
Staff said Ferrell's actions have rattled the organization, as some donors have been scared away and that morale is low among employees and volunteers.
Ferrell had access to the organization’s bank accounts, debit cards and payroll system between May 2013 and April 2018, according to court documents.
Documents say she used the bank accounts to pay for things like her mortgage, utilities and property tax payments.
The United States Attorney of Eastern Washington said Ferrell frequently disguised these transfers in Meals on Wheels’ internal accounting system to make them appear as though they were legitimate Meals on Wheels expenses.
Documents say Ferrell frequently underpaid the organization's payroll taxes or failed to file tax returns at all, then falsified Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels' internal accounting records to reflect that it had been paid in full.
Prosecutors said Greater Spokane Meals on Wheels owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $120,000 in back payroll taxes, not including penalties or interest for late payment.