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A former fundraising consultant pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling more than $17,000 from the leadership political action committee of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

According to the guilty plea, between March and November 2007, Melissa Thomas wrote $17,825 worth of checks to herself from a PAC that her company ran.

Brandon Winfrey of the Virginia-based consulting firm Winfrey & Co. confirmed that Thomas worked for his firm and that Roberts’ Preserving America’s Traditions PAC is the PAC involved in the case.

Winfrey said he discovered the missing money while reviewing Thomas’ work, she was dismissed, and he “turned it over to the proper authorities.—

Winfrey & Co. is not accused of any wrongdoing, and the plea agreement notes that Thomas “concealed her fraud— from Winfrey. The plea documents explain that Thomas forged Winfrey’s name on the checks.

The charges in the case carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

William McGinley, counsel to PATPAC, told Roll Call that the PAC learned about “questionable transactions— in early 2008. The PAC “reviewed the matter, reported it to the authorities and cooperated with the investigation,— McGinley said.

He added that Thomas “has made restitution to the PAC, and PATPAC is glad to have this matter behind it.—

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