Former bookkeeper of Sulphur oil field company found guilty of stealing more than $4 million

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – A former bookkeeper for a Sulphur oil field company has been found guilty by a federal jury of stealing more than $4 million during her tenure, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook said in a news release that Elizabeth Istre, 51, of Sulphur, was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud.

After the four-day trial, the jury deliberated for about an hour before reaching the guilty verdict.

Istre worked as a bookkeeper for a family-owned oil company in Sulphur between 2004 and 2014.

Istre issued fraudulent checks payable to herself and her husband from the company’s bank account, according to U.S. Attorney’s office.

Van Hook said in a news release that Istre issued 800 checks totaling more than $4 million and used the money for personal expenses.

Istre started writing checks for herself, in small amounts, shortly after being hired in 2004.

“By 2011, she was writing fraudulent checks for half a million dollars a year,” Van Hook said.

Istre was the only person who used the company’s software and provided the financial statements directly to the company’s accountant.

She was able to conceal the stolen funds due to the fluctuations in the oil and gas industry.

Istre bought “several vehicles, took numerous trips, paid bills, bought property, paid family members’ expenses, withdrew cash and made other transactions with the stolen funds,” Van Hook said.

Istre faces up to 20 years in prison, including five years of supervised release, restitution and a $250,000 fine for each count.

A sentencing date has not been set yet.

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