McKinney woman pleads guilty in university embezzlement scheme
A McKinney woman has pleaded guilty to federal theft charges related to a university embezzlement scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced this week.
Heather Elizabeth Mercado, 42, pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christine A. Nowak of the Eastern District of Texas.
According to information presented in court, from December 2014 to April 13, 2015, Mercado was employed by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas as director of talent acquisition with the Human Resources Department. Mercado also controlled and operated a company, Alliance Consulting Partners (ACP), purportedly in the business of hospital staffing.
Mercado devised and executed a scheme in which she represented to UT Southwestern Medical Center that ACP recruited nurses and other personnel to work at UT Southwestern, thereby leading to fraudulent invoices causing UT Southwestern Medical Center to pay ACP more than $483,000, according to authorities.
Mercado was indicted by a federal grand jury Jan. 13 of this year. She faces up to 10 years in federal prison. Her sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing date had not been set as of late this week.
The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and UT Southwestern investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Eason.