Ocean View Woman Gets 51 Months In Federal Prison In Million Dollar Theft

David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that Joan Donald, 55, of Ocean View, was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison on federal wire fraud and tax evasion charges. Chief U.S. District Judge Colm F. Connolly pronounced sentence.

According to court documents and statements made in open court, Donald worked as an administrative assistant and quasi-bookkeeper for Dovetail, Inc., a high-end interior design and construction business located in Bethany Beach. Beginning in at least 2014, the defendant began defrauding Dovetail and its owner by paying herself a shadow salary, paying her personal credit card bills using the business’s bank account, and funneling money to her husband in various ways, including by fraudulent checks and Square payments. In total, the defendant embezzled more than $1.1 million from Dovetail and its owner.

U.S. Attorney Weiss commented on the sentence, “The owner of Dovetail, Connie Britell, was a force of nature who built her business from the ground up. Over the years, Ms. Britell placed more and more trust in the defendant, eventually giving the defendant control over company finances. The defendant abused that trust. Month after month for at least seven years, defendant Donald drained Dovetail’s accounts until there was nothing left. In doing so, the defendant exploited an elderly woman in declining health who had placed full faith in her. The defendant’s conduct was not only criminal, it was also cruel. Today’s sentence stands as a stark warning to those who prey on the elderly.”

“Justice has been served today and this defendant is on her way to federal prison for stealing from her employer, the American public, and the government,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Yury Kruty. “Would-be criminals should take notice. A similar fate awaits anyone thinking about engaging in this type of criminal conduct.”

“Today’s sentence has put an end to Joan Donald’s flagrant actions and complete disrespect of the law. For years Donald was a trusted insider who preyed on her employer by stealing funds to financially enrich herself” stated Baltimore FBI Special Agent in Charge, Thomas J. Sobocinski. “Those who abuse their position of trust for their own financial greed will not be tolerated. The FBI and our partners will continue to uncover those committing fraud and causing harm to businesses and individuals for personal gain.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Howland prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation.