Turk File

Former secretary/paralegal pleads guilty to stealing $200k

by Leslie Turk

Michelle D. Lavergne, who worked for the Lafayette law office of L. Clayton Burgess for 13 years, faces up to 10 years in prison.

Michelle Lavergne

The U.S. attorney's office announced this week that Michelle D. Lavergne of Church Point pleaded guilty to stealing more than $197,000 from her employer over a five-year period. Lavergne worked for the law office of L. Clayton Burgess as a financial secretary and paralegal for 13 years.

The 36-year-old appeared before U.S. District Judge Richard Haik for three counts of making and possessing a forged security, as part of a larger fraudulent scheme.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, from April 1, 2008 to April 30, 2013, Lavergne used her position at the local firm to embezzle funds by writing checks to herself and another employee in various amounts ranging from $350 to $5,500. The checks totaled $197,371.53 over a five-year period.

Lavergne, who was arrested in mid-2013, had access to the business checks because of her position and obtained pre-signed checks to pay bills or she forged the signature, so she could deposit the checks into her personal account.

Lavergne faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, forfeiture and a $250,000 fine for each count.