An Oakland bookkeeper has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of embezzling $240,000 from three small business clients in Oakland and Berkeley. Catherine Bullard, 37, of Oakland, was indicted by a grand jury in Oakland Thursday on four counts of wire fraud and five counts of bank fraud. She is due to have an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Laurel Beeler on July 23. The indictment alleges that Bullard embezzled $240,000 from three businesses between 2005 and early this year by depositing checks intended for third-party vendors into her own bank account.
The three businesses are A Step Forward, a shoe and accessories store on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland; Molly B, a clothing store with two locations in Berkeley; and Monsoon Corp., an Oakland jewelry store. The indictment says the establishments entrusted Bullard with their checkbooks so that she could pay the third-party vendors that supplied the businesses with products. But instead of sending certain checks to vendors, Bullard is accused of writing her own bank account number on the back of checks intended for vendors and using ATMs to deposit the checks to her own account. The nine counts each carry a theoretical maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, but if Bullard is convicted, the actual penalty would be determined by a judge after consideration of federal sentencing guidelines. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong for a not-yet-scheduled trial.