Former SSA employee pleads guilty in Federal District Court

Former SSA employee pleads guilty in Federal District Court

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A Mashpee woman was convicted in federal court Monday of embezzling more than $100,000 from the Steamship Authority, in a scheme involving the use of fictitious customer names. Armine Sabatini, 46, pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement and two counts of wire fraud.

Prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said that their evidence, if the case had proceeded to trial, would have proven that from 2001 until 2009, the former bookkeeper assigned refunds to accounts she controlled that were payable to customer names that she created. Prosecutors said Ms. Sabatini allegedly conducted about 380 fraudulent refund transactions and misappropriated $145,000 in authority funds.

Her sentencing is scheduled for November 17. She faces up to 60 years in prison.

Falmouth police arrested Ms. Sabatini on October 8, 2009. She was arraigned in Falmouth District Court.

At the time of her arrest, Wayne Lamson, Steamship Authority general manager, told The Times that SSA members were stunned to learn that a long-time employee was under investigation.

The SSA administrative offices are located on the second floor of the Woods Hole terminal. It is a small office, and Ms. Sabatini was one of about 15 employees who work there.

In a telephone conversation Wednesday, Mr. Lamson said that Ms. Sabatini was a longterm and trusted employee. “The scheme that she created was very serious misconduct that went undetected for a long period of time both by our internal auditors and our outside independent auditors,” Mr. Lamson said.

Mr. Lamson said new controls are in place and he expects that the sentence will include jail time and restitution. “I am happy that it did not include any of our customers’ card accounts and that their cards and account numbers were not affected,” he said.