Former Track Bookkeeper Guilty

WHEELING (AP) – A Virginia woman was convicted Friday of embezzling more than $1.3 million in horse racing funds from West Virginia’s Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort and hiding the thefts with fake entries in an Internet-based accounting system.

A federal jury in Wheeling found 49-year-old former bookkeeper Anita Ambler guilty of 11 counts of mail fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud and four counts of transacting in criminal proceeds.

Judge Frederick P. Stamp Jr. ordered Ambler to forfeit her estate in Reva, Va., along with a vehicle that prosecutors say she purchased with the stolen funds.

At trial, testimony and documents revealed Amber took purse and prize money the casino managed for the Mountaineer Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association. The account included money the horsemen deposited, as well as proceeds from race winnings.

Ambler handled the cash that was supposed to go into that account.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said her job duties included communications with the account holders, so she was in a position to know which accounts were dormant and could be compromised without discovery.

She stole funds for her own use from March 2005 until August 2010, he said.

Ambler faces a forfeiture order equal to the amount she stole when she’s sentenced at a later date.

She also faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the mail and wire fraud charges, plus 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the transaction charge.