Former business manager pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charge

A former business manager for a Baton Rouge real estate development firm pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to one count of wire fraud which accused her of taking more than $250,000 from her employer.

Renee Elise Beard, 49, of Addis, faces a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment.

The FBI investigation also revealed Beard’s thefts caused tax problems for her former employer, Campbell Management.

Some of the company funds Beard stole were supposed to have been forwarded to the IRS on behalf of the company. The IRS informed Beard on July 19, 2012, the company’s “federal tax liability was calculated to be $231,419,” according to the plea agreement and a set of admissions she signed.

Three days later, according to the plea agreement, Beard told company owners “she had ‘borrowed’ management funds and had failed to pay quarterly payroll taxes for the management’s employees.”

Beard conceded Monday that she also told ownership she had taken company money since 2009 and “intended to repay the funds, but was now unable to do so.”

Added Beard: “The devil took over (and) wouldn’t let go.”

According to documents, Beard’s thefts actually began in 2008.

In return for her guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss four additional counts of wire fraud.