Central Parking employee charged with fraud

U.S. Attorney's office says treasury analyst diverted money for five years

Updated at 1:15 p.m. with comments from Central Parking

U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin has filed charges against an employee of Central Parking his office says embezzled money from the company for five years.

Pleasant View resident Mary Harris stands accused of four counts of wire fraud "arising from her scheme to embezzle company funds from August 2004 to August 2009." The 51-year-old, who was a treasury analyst at the Nashville-based company, faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.

The charges against Harris says that, from the summer of 2004 to August 2009, she embezzled more than $1.9 million from Central Parking, by authorizing Automated Clearing House transfers into her bank account and then covering her track by creating fraudulent accounting entries in Central Parking’s books and creating false e-mails to support those entries.

“Corporate officials hold positions of trust, both within their companies and in the eyes of the public at large,” Martin said. “That trust is broken when such officials abuse their power and commit crimes. A complex corporate embezzlement, just like any other theft, is a serious crime, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute those who commit them.”

In a statement, Central Parking officials said they were "outraged" when the theft came to light and have "provided our full assistance to law enforcement prosecuting this case, and we are gratified that they have moved to bring charges against this individual." The company said no client funds were involved in Harris' fraud.

The company also said it has taken steps to prevent future transgressions. "The Company, as a part of our investigation and uncovering the scheme, has modified and increased its internal controls to better prevent such activities in the future."

The case was investigated by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ty Howard is leading the case for the federal government.