Crime

She's a big loser: $1.4 million on the slots, 3 years of freedom, nearly $3 million owed

Deerfield Beach's Lauren Ransom, who embezzled over $2 million from businesses who used her as a bookkeeper, got three years in prison and was ordered to pay almost $3 million in restitution after pleading guilty to tax fraud.
Deerfield Beach's Lauren Ransom, who embezzled over $2 million from businesses who used her as a bookkeeper, got three years in prison and was ordered to pay almost $3 million in restitution after pleading guilty to tax fraud. Miami Herald

Losing big defines much of the last few years for Deerfield Beach bookkeeper Lauren Ransom.

According to federal court files, Ransom admits losing $1,410,276.95 from 2008-2014 on the Seminole Casino at Coconut Creek slot machines. She caused the Margate companies for which she worked — Rhino Inc. and Greg Fitzpatrick Inc. — as bookkeeper to lose the more than $2 million she embezzled. She lost that job in 2013 when the married couple who owned those companies discovered Ransom's white-collar thievery.

Finally, the 59-year-old Ransom will lose three years to federal prison after her sentencing in May. Not for the embezzlement, but for making a false tax return by not declaring the embezzled money income.

Also, as part of the sentence, Ransom will pay restitution of $2,245,402.13 to Rhino Inc.'s owners and $730,983 to the IRS, a total loss of $2,976,385.13.

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As far as embezzlement schemes go, Ransom's was based on the trust gained during most of her 33 years as bookkeeper for Rhino and Greg Fitzpatrick.

She used her long-held check-writing powers to not only pay company bills, but pay her own bills and make up for slot losses after writing checks to herself. Canceled fraudulent checks got whiteout in the "Pay to the order of" space, then Ransom would fill in a legitimate business expense to disguise her theft.

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