SPRINGFIELD — A Clinton woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal wire and mail fraud charges accusing her of embezzling more than $406,000 from the medical practice where she worked as office manager.
Veronica Luster, 47, entered the guilty pleas in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Springfield. Luster was indicted in September 2015 on two counts of mail fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud accusing her of taking the money from Clinton Internal Medicine and Dr. Farukah Kureishy.
The mail and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Before a July 28 sentencing hearing, federal prosecutors will compile advisory sentencing guidelines for U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough that take several factors into consideration, including the defendant's prior criminal history and the guilty pleas.
Federal charges alleged that Luster, an employee of the doctor's office from 2005 until she was fired in March 2014, used money from the business to pay for personal items, including designer clothing, travel, vacations and her credit care bills.
Kureishy, who is now affiliated with Family Medicine Clinic at Warner Hospital & Health Services in Clinton, filed a lawsuit against his former office manager in 2014 seeking reimbursement of more than $600,000 he claims the practice lost during her tenure. The lawsuit is still pending.
The alleged embezzlement was discovered in March 2014 by the accountant for the medical practice who was having difficulty obtaining financial records needed to prepare tax returns for the business, according to filings in the lawsuit.
Luster claimed that her account number and passwords were stolen by other individuals who made the fraudulent purchases with business money, according to the federal charges.