A Newburgh woman accused of using her payroll services business to steal more than $2 million from clients is scheduled to plead guilty Tuesday in Boston to federal charges.
Patricia Lindau, 65, formerly of Newburyport, Massachusetts, has agreed to plead guilty to one count each of wire fraud and tax evasion.
She is expected to be sentenced at a later date.
Lindau allegedly stole money set aside for payroll taxes from her clients, who were mostly small-business owners in Massachusetts, between 2017 and early 2020, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for Massachusetts.
The scheme also allegedly cost her clients $1 million in losses.
It could not be determined from court documents how many, if any, of Lindau’s victims were small business owners in Maine.
Her attorney, Carmine Lepore of Revere, Massachusetts, called his client remorseful.
“Mrs. Lindau has accepted responsibility at this early stage mainly because she is extremely remorseful and does not desire to drag the matter out further,” he said Monday.
Through her firm, Northeast Abacus Inc., Lindau used her access to clients’ bank accounts to transfer payroll taxes into her Abacus business checking account, according to court documents. Instead of paying the Internal Revenue Service and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, as required by law, Lindau converted the funds for her personal use.
To conceal the scheme, she sent clients weekly reports falsely indicating that the money was used for payroll taxes, court documents said. When clients began receiving letters from the IRS and the state revenue department, Lindau assured them that it was a mistake that she would clear up.
Lindau closed her business in May and stopped returning clients’ phone calls and emails, as the coronavirus pandemic forced many to close their doors. She and her husband have filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine listing about 40 creditors, many of whom were clients. The filing said the couple owes between $1 million and $10 million in debt.
In that proceeding, the couple’s Newburgh home, on Kennebec Road, was sold last month at auction to a New Jersey resident for $350,000. The Lindaus must move out by Feb. 28.
In a separate proceeding last summer, Camden National Bank foreclosed on two Eastport buildings the couple owned at 73 and 75 Water St. The couple used them as collateral to secure loans totaling more than $780,000.
The buildings most recently housed Moose Island Bakery and the seasonal gift shop Without a Paddle, according to the Quoddy Tides. Ross Furman of Eastport purchased the buildings on July 14 for $295,000, the Eastport paper reported.
Lindau’s plea agreement calls for federal prosecutors to recommend that she be sentenced to prison for four years and nine months to five years and 11 months. Her attorney will be free to argue for a lesser sentence. She also agreed to pay nearly $1.4 million in restitution, according to court documents.
Lindau also has been sued in Massachusetts by former clients for far more than bankruptcy documents said that she owed them, according to the Boston Globe.