Former bookkeeper convicted of embezzling at Mountaineer

WHEELING – A former bookkeeper at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort was convicted by a federal jury Friday of embezzling more than $1.3 million from the local racetrack.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld II, announced that Anita Ambler, 49, of Virginia, was found guilty of 11 counts of mail fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, and four counts of transacting in criminal proceeds.

Trial evidence showed that Ambler was involved in the theft of funds from an account that was being maintained by Mountaineer on behalf of the Horsemen’s Association.

Ambler was employed by Mountaineer as a bookkeeper and managed and controlled the Horsemen’s account, identified as The Horseman’s Purse Account, according to information provided by Ihlenfeld’s office.

The Horseman’s account included funds deposited by horsemen as well as proceeds from race winnings.

As part of her duties and authority, Ambler received cash which was to be deposited into the Horseman’s account. Ambler was also responsible for sending communications from Mountaineer to legitimate horsemen account holders and was in a position to know which horsemen held accounts were dormant and could be subject to compromise and fraudulent use without discovery.

From in or about March of 2005 to August 6, 2010, Ambler embezzled and stole funds, including cash for her own benefit and purpose, the release states. Evidence showed that Ambler used Brinks, which was a private commercial interstate carrier to transport deposits of cash and checks, including deposits intended for the Horseman’s account, from Mountaineer to local financial institutions.

Mountaineer and Ambler utilized an Internet-based accounting system to make entries to the accounting and bookkeeping records of the Horseman’s account and Ambler accessed the account records via the Internet thus transmitting interstate wire communications.

Ambler faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on each of the mail and wire fraud charges and 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on each of the transacting charges.

The jury found that Ambler must forfeit real estate located in Reva, Va., and a Dodge Nitro, both of which were assets that she purchased with proceeds from her scheme. She also faces a forfeiture judgment of more than $1.3 million.

Ihlenfeld commended the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and FBI Special Agent Wes Quigley for investigating the matter. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Randolph J. Bernard and Michael D. Stein. Judge Frederick P. Stamp Jr. presided over the trial.