Crime & Courts

Shelby woman pleads guilty to $410,000-plus theft

A Shelby woman who managed a Belmont-based company’s payroll operations entered a guilty plea Tuesday in federal court to charges that she stole money from her employer and filed a false income tax return, authorities said.

Tara Gist-Savage, 40, pleaded guilty in a Charlotte courtroom to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false tax return.

According to prosecutors, Gist-Savage worked from 2008 to 2013 with an energy services company and was in charge of the company’s payroll. Court records showed that beginning in 2008 or even earlier, Gist-Savage used her position to produce fraudulent payroll payments. Prosecutors said Gist-Savage directed those payments to four bank accounts held in her name.

According to court documents, Gist-Savage embezzled $410,936.094 in that way.

She also failed to report the fraudulently obtained income on income tax returns from 2008 to 2012, according to prosecutors. Authorities estimated she owed more than $101,000 in taxes.

Gist-Savage was released on bond but faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charge, plus up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for not filing tax returns.

Prosecutors said Gist-Savage has agreed to pay restitution, but that amount has not been set.

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