Woman Gets 6 Years After Defrauding 2 Nonprofits

Nicole Lescarbeau, a.k.a. Nicole Coulibaly, was sentenced to six years in prison, five years of supervised release and ordered to make restitution to two nonprofits she defrauded while employed by them. Lescarbeau embezzled more than $1.4 million from the two nonprofits, which were not identified in court papers or a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

In December 2019, the now-53-year-old Lescarbeau had pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, bank fraud and wire fraud as part of her embezzlement activities from the first nonprofit, according to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. That nonprofit, in which Lescarbeau served as chief operating officer between July 2013 and January 2018, was characterized in the government’s sentencing memorandum as a Boston-based organization that focuses on nutrition research, policy and programs for developing countries.

Between August 2013 and January 2018, Lescarbeau stole nearly $1.4 million from the first nonprofit by making more than 350 unauthorized wire transfers and issuing more than 250 unauthorized checks to herself, her husband and individuals or entities to whom she owed money, according to the sentencing memorandum. After her September 2018 arrest, she was placed on pre-trial release, provided she refrained from illegal activities. These conditions were reiterated in December 2019, when she pled guilty and was released.

By that time, however, Lescarbeau had applied for and been given an officer administrator position at an affordable housing organization based in Brookline, Mass. She did not disclose her prior indictment, and according to the sentencing memorandum concealed the name under which she was indicted by using her married name — Nicole Coulibaly.

Lescarbeau served in that position between April 2019 and February 2020, according to the sentencing memorandum. In August 2019, the organization’s treasurer resigned, and during the following six months Lescarbeau stole roughly $57,000 from the organization through unauthorized wire transfers, cash transfers and check thefts in which she changed the name of the payee.

In December 2020, Lescarbeau was charged with embezzlement from the second nonprofit, according to an earlier statement from a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

“[Lescarbeau] treated her employer’s money as a piggybank to fund her lifestyle,” according to the government’s sentencing memorandum. “This was not a single act of poor judgement [sic]. It was a pervasive scheme that lasted nearly the entirety of her employment at two different non-profits… in doing so, Lescarbeau knowingly stole from non-profits who, pursuant to their stated missions, would have used those funds for charitable endeavors.

“Her actions had a direct and serious impact on her non-profit employers,” the government sentencing memorandum continued. “As an initial matter, Lescarbeau’s victims suffered extreme financial harm… These monetary losses, however, only represent a part of the damage caused by Lescarbeau. For example, as a direct result of this defendant’s theft, numerous charitable endeavors were either indefinitely placed on hold or altogether abandoned.

“And, shockingly, being charged, arrested, and pleading guilty were barely speed bumps for Lescarbeau,” according to the sentencing memorandum. “At a time when most would have abandoned their criminal activities, while out on pre-trial release awaiting sentencing on er initial charges, this defendant simply pivoted to defrauding another non-profit to maintain her desired lifestyle.”

The most recent case, 1:21-cr-10139-RGS, was brought in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.