Former CEO pleads guilty to embezzling more than $ 15M to finance a life of luxury – WSOC TV

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Former CEO pleads guilty to embezzling more than $ 15M to finance a life of luxury - WSOC TV

[ RELATED: Former NC CEO accused of embezzling $15 million accepts plea deal ]

She didn’t say a word as Channel 9 tried asking her about the embezzlement as she walked into the federal courthouse.

Steele, 52, is accused of embezzling $15 million from 2013 until 2020 from her employer, Tigra, in Hickory where she worked as CEO.

Donna Steele Donna Steele enters the federal courthouse in Charlotte to plead guilty to wire fraud on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. (WSOC)

Story Highlights

  • Court documents reveal Donna Steele took more than $15 million from a business in Hickory.

  • Reporter Dave Faherty has closely followed every development in Steele’s case and was in court Wednesday morning when she addressed the judge, apologizing while fighting back tears.

Court documents said she used the money to pay for her lavish lifestyle, including travel, $500,000 on jewelry, and family weddings.

Steele also used stolen money to fund personal businesses run by her family.

Prosecutors said she used company credit cards, checks and wire transfers to steal company funds, transferring $350,000 to a boutique company called Opulence by Steele, a luxury clothing and boutique company she created in 2013. Steele pleaded guilty to wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She was ordered to surrender her passport and will be sentenced at a later date.

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