RICHMOND, Texas (KIAH) — A Sugar Land woman has pled guilty to stealing more than $1 million from her employer in an eight-year period, according to prosecutors from the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.

Mary McDonough, 42, pled guilty to felony theft and money laundering and was sentenced to 18 years in prison by district court Judge Tameika Carter on Wednesday after McDonough waived her right to a jury trial. She will be eligible for probation.

According to lead prosecutor Susan Sweeney, McDonough was responsible for a Sugar Land real estate developer’s business accounts for eight years between 2010 and 2018.  Through unauthorized payroll and direct payments to her personal credit card, she was able to divert more than $1.3 million for her own benefit.

McDonough began her thefts by cashing her very first paycheck twice in 2010 and continued to inflate her own payroll over eight years, prosecutors said.  As she gained the developer’s trust, the defendant also used one of the business accounts to pay approximately 80% percent of the $1.1 million in charges she made on one of her personal credit cards.

Fort Bend County District Attorney Fraud Examiner Betty Chi testified that in 2012, McDonough built a new home with a pool. Chi also said that McDonough’s significant credit card purchases included brand-name and boutique clothing for women and children, furniture, home décor, and other personal expenses that did not appear to be necessities.

The evidence also showed that McDonough had previously completed an 18-month deferred adjudication probation for stealing $1,100 from a store where she worked in her teens.  Witnesses and records showed that just prior to working for the developer, the defendant was terminated from an oil services company for making personal charges on the company’s credit card.  The oil services company did not file criminal charges against McDonough.

“There is no realistic chance for financial restitution from the defendant, and there was very little expression of remorse other than her plea of guilty,” said Sweeney.  “Considering all the damage done, both personal and financial, a prison sentence was just in this case.”

Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton said, “White collar crime is expensive, and the costs are often passed to consumers and other businesses. The sentence in this case was just relative to the harm that was caused by the defendant.”