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California woman sentenced after admitting embezzlement

A 43-year-old California woman was sentenced to five years in a state prison on Feb. 4 for embezzling $474,000 from the owners of a Paso Robles company. Prosecutors say that she took advantage of the elderly owners of the company over a period of about three years after being hired as a bookkeeper. Media reports reveal that the woman is being held at the San Luis Obispo County Jail and may serve her sentence at the California Institution for Women.

Police began to investigate the woman's activities in June 2018 when a manager at the company called to report a series of suspicious transactions. The manager is said to have shown police several forged checks and about $421,000 in unauthorized withdrawals and transactions. Police say that the woman originally claimed that she was working at the behest of her employers and took the money to donate to charity. Some of the money was allegedly used to buy a diamond ring.

The woman will be expected to pay her victims back most of the money taken. A restitution hearing is scheduled to be held on May 6. A report prepared by the San Luis Obispo County Probation Department recommends restitution of $473,763, but it also raises questions about the woman's ability to pay.

Most cases involving embezzlement and other white-collar crimes are resolved at the negotiating table. When discussing plea agreements, experienced criminal defense attorneys may bring up mitigating circumstances to encourage prosecutors to consider leniency. Prosecutors may be more willing to reduce charges or penalties when offenders show sincere regret, wish to make restitution, have a full-time job and are supported by their friends or family members.

Source: The Tribune, Paso Robles bookkeeper embezzled $474,000 from gravel business. Now she's headed to prison, Matt Fountain, Feb. 5, 2019

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