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Former Drilling Co. officer pleads guilty in fraud scheme

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

A former controller at Indiana County-based Falcon Drilling Co. pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to participating in a scheme to defraud the company of nearly $10 million.

Cheryl Diane Brooks, 43, of Clymer in Indiana County, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, as well as charges of mail fraud and tax fraud, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said in a news release.

Brooks pleaded guilty to seven counts in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

Between 2007 and 2012, Brooks conspired with another person to embezzle funds from the company, causing the loss of nearly $10 million, according to Hickton.

Brooks and another person embezzled the money by using forged checks, fake invoices to fictitious or real vendors, and false statements to auditors.

Brooks obtained about $557,000 from the scheme, Hickton told Chief U.S. Judge Gary Lancaster.

Brooks conspired with the former chief operating officer of Falcon Drilling Co. LLC of Rayne Township, according to the information filed in court last month. At that time, the company's loss was pegged at $6 million.

State police in February 2012 charged former Chief Operating Officer Larry D. Winckler, 52, of White in Indiana County with 58 counts of theft and receiving stolen property but withdrew the charges when federal prosecutors took over the case.

Winckler has not been indicted on federal charges.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 31.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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