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Ex-Deloitte Manager Is Accused of Fraud

Santa Ana woman, who is suspected of cheating the consulting firm of $550,000, is indicted.

August 02, 2005|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

The former operations manager for the Santa Ana office of Deloitte Consulting LLP, a major business consulting firm, was arrested Monday, accused of bilking her employer out of more than $500,000.

Jamie Watkins, 48, was released on a $20,000 bond after being indicted in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on federal charges of mail and wire fraud, said Brett Sagel, the assistant U.S. attorney in Santa Ana prosecuting the case.

"You basically have a person in a position of trust" who abused that trust, Sagel said.

"Not just people who sell drugs or carry guns are prosecuted -- people who have money and wear suits and ties to work are prosecuted as well," he said.

Watkins of Santa Ana is accused of defrauding the firm -- a subsidiary of Deloitte & Touche USA LLP of about $550,000 from June 2000 to October 2003, when she was office operations manager in charge of, among other things, purchasing equipment, procuring office supplies and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the office.

The money was obtained, Sagel said, in several ways: by using a company credit card to pay for various personal expenses, allegedly including property taxes, jewelry, clothing and a wine cellar; accepting reimbursement for business-related expenses that Watkins had paid for with a company credit card but said were out of pocket; and creating false invoices for nonexistent purchases for which she received reimbursement.

Watkins was fired in 2003, Sagel said, after company auditors discovered "reimbursement irregularities." The long-investigated case "is unusual," he said, "because you don't see charges like this every day."

Reached by telephone Monday, Watkins declined to comment.

She is scheduled for arraignment in the Santa Ana court Monday, the prosecutor said.

If she is convicted on all counts, Sagel said, Watkins could face up to 80 years in federal prison.

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