Lynnwood bookkeeper gets federal prison for embezzling $298K

Judith Wright, 75, was sentenced Friday to six months for writing fraudulent checks to herself. It wasn’t the first time.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lynnwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118

LYNNWOOD — For seven years, a Lynnwood woman fraudulently issued checks to her own company from a Seattle firm.

This wasn’t the first time Judith Wright, 75, was caught stealing. In 1994, she was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for embezzling at least $45,000 from the bank where she served as chief financial officer. That scheme, almost three decades ago, was “nearly identical” to the more recent embezzlement, federal prosecutors alleged.

In the 2000s, Wright’s main job at Transportation Demand Management was maintaining financial records.

Between February 2010 and January 2017, however, Wright deposited 120 fraudulent checks from the company, totaling $298,000, according to federal prosecutors.

This only came to light when a new chief financial officer arrived and started questioning Wright’s work. An FBI analysis of her payments between 2013 and 2018 found she spent almost $79,000 at Nordstrom, over $17,000 with TV shopping network QVC, more than $16,000 at Starbucks and nearly $10,000 with the Merry Maids cleaning service.

In a letter accepting responsibility, Wright wrote that “money was tight” and “in desperation” she embezzled funds to cover expenses for her daughter and granddaughter.

In September, Wright pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. She was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to six months in prison and one year of home detention. Federal prosecutors had pushed for her to spend 2¾ years behind bars.

She was also ordered to pay back the almost $300,000 she embezzled.

In this case, she disguised the payments as being meant for vendors. Instead, they went into a bank account she controlled, according to court documents. She applied the signature of the company’s owner without the owner’s permission, as well.

“Even with the passage of time, you have little respect for the law,” Judge Richard Jones said at Friday’s sentencing, according to a news release.

Wright also reportedly created fake accounts in the company’s accounting system that recorded the checks to her as credit card fees.

Those efforts to hide the fraudulent checks were largely successful. After all, her illegal activities “continued unfettered for nearly seven years,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Arnold wrote in court papers.

“The defendant’s scheme was not an isolated incident of misjudgment,” Arnold wrote. “Rather, her conduct was lengthy and calculated.”

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A Port Angeles police officer cordons off an empty lot in Sequim on Thursday as law enforcement officials investigate an incident in the area. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Man arrested in Sequim, connected to homicide, has Snohomish County ties

A dead woman was found in Bret Allen Kenney’s home, police say. He previously attacked Snohomish County Jail guards.

A car makes its way through a winding unpaved section of the Mountain Loop Highway 15 miles outside of Darrington.
14-mile scenic stretch of Mountain Loop Highway opens early

The highway between Granite Falls and Darrington reopened to traffic on Friday due to good weather.

Britney Barber, owner of Everett Improv. Barber performs a shows based on cuttings from The Everett Herald. Photographed in Everett, Washington on May 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Cut this paper up and have a laugh at Everett Improv

The troupe’s new recurring “Boozie Newzie” show is based off clippings from The Daily Herald. Meta, dude.

HIdden River Middle School (Monroe School District)
Monroe school employee on leave for ‘racially insensitive language’

The incident took place at Hidden River Middle School. Also, police were investigating racist vandalism found at another school.

Svetlana Kravchenko appears in court for her sentencing Thursday, May 19, 2022, at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett woman gets community service in 2019 fatal hit-and-run

Svetlana Kravchenko was required to stay at the scene after hitting and killing Te Nguyen, 83. Instead, she went home.

A tiny homes program that opened in early July began with each unit claimed and a wait list of 60. Here Patrick Diller, head of community partnerships for Pallet, discusses the Pallet Shelter Pilot Project on June 29, 2021 in Everett. (Katie Hayes / Herald file)
Everett marks $2.7 million in federal funds for homeless housing

With the American Rescue Plan money, the city’s small housing program for unsheltered people could expand to three sites.

WSDOT workers open up the Smokey Point Rest Area on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Free coffee will be back soon at Smokey Point rest areas

Everett’s Silver Lake rest area for southbound I-5 drivers remains closed while WSDOT works on the facility.

Pro skateboarding competition coming to Everett in August

Street League Skateboarding’s championship tour will be at Angel of the Winds arena for two days.

Drivers heading north on Interstate 5 will take a detour from Highway 104 to 220th Street SW and back to I-5 this weekend during nightly lane closures for Sound Transit light rail work. (Sound Transit)
Light rail work closing I-5 North lanes nightly this weekend

Crews need to close northbound lanes between 220th Street SW and Highway 104. Drivers have two detour options.

Most Read