Serial embezzler pleads guilty

A San Francisco bookkeeper has pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco to bank fraud and identity theft charges and admitted embezzling more than $1 million from four employers in five years.

Charlyne Basada, 38, also known as Charlyna Melendres, entered the plea on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer.

She pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of identity theft and will be sentenced by Breyer on June 8.

Acting U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch said that while pleading guilty to the two counts, Basada admitted in a plea agreement that she stole $1,085,919 from four employers between 2011 and 2015 by making fraudulent payments to herself through the companies’ checking accounts.

Basada worked as a bookkeeper or office manager for each of the companies, Stretch said.

Stretch said Basada admitted that for some of the fraudulent checks, she falsely represented that she was entitled to wages or reimbursements. In other instances, Basada took checks intended for other vendors, wrote “CASH” in the payee line and then cashed the checks.

Basada was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on 12 counts of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. She pleaded guilty to two of those counts and the others will be dropped as part of the plea bargain.

The four employers were JVM Lending, Forum Design, Korts & Knight and Becker Electric, according to the plea agreement.

The maximum sentence for bank fraud is 30 years in prison and the aggravated identify theft conviction carries a mandatory two-year sentence.

Basada has paid back about $22,000, but still owes her former employers $1,063,976, Stretch said.