HOUSTON - October 15, 2015 - A 49-year-old woman from Missouri City has been ordered to federal prison following her conviction of one count of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Michelle Robyn Freytag pleaded guilty July 9, 2015, to defrauding her former employer—a Houston businessman—of more than $1.3 million.
At the hearing today, the victim addressed the court and urged for a sentence that would send a message to the members of the community that crimes of this nature will not be tolerated, noting they can “destroy lives, destroy families, destroy businesses and cause harm far exceeding just the financial costs to individual victims.” U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison, who accepted the guilty plea, then handed Freytag a 78-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. She was further ordered to pay restitution of $1,107,152 to the victim. “I am sympathetic to defendants from disadvantaged backgrounds who commit offenses at a young age and are in trouble with the law before they are old enough to understand their actions,” said Judge Ellison. “None of that applies to Ms. Freytag. She was raised in a supportive family and has had access to good jobs. She chose to steal anyway.”
Freytag was hired in April 2009 to be her employer’s executive assistant. As part of her guilty plea, she admitted that as early as August 2009, she began misusing her position and her access to his credit card and banking information. She arranged for credit cards to be assigned in her name but under her employer’s various accounts at Whitney National Bank. As the executive assistant, Freytag was able to arrange for her personal expenditures to be satisfied with monies from bank accounts assigned to her employer or his other companies.
Over the next four years, Freytag repeated this process and obtained, without authorization from her employer, at least four additional Whitney Bank credit cards in his name, his spouse’s name and in the name of two of his other companies. Freytag obtained these credit cards by falsely representing to Whitney Bank that her employer had authorized the issuance of these cards or by falsely representing that certain previously issued credit cards had allegedly been lost and that replacements were requested by her employer or his spouse. Freytag used these credit cards to take cash advances and to make personal expenditures. She would then cause these cash advances and personal expenditures to be satisfied with monies from bank accounts assigned to her employer or his other businesses.
According to the plea agreement, Freytag’s unauthorized cash advances and personal expenditures between August 2009 and January 2014 (when her scheme was discovered) totaled approximately $1.3 million.
Although originally released on bond at the time of her Indictment in February 2015, Judge Ellison later revoked Freytag’s bond for repeated violations of her conditions of release. She has been in federal custody since Aug. 13, 2015, where she will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Varnado prosecuted the case.
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas
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