Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Massachusetts Bookkeeper Sentenced In Rhode Island Embezzlement Case

Rhonda L. Hastings, 40, of Holliston, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison followed by 2 1/2 years of home confinement for embezzling some $540,000 from the Dollar Depot Plus stores in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where she had been employed as a bookkeeper. Hastings, who pleaded guilty to one count of "unlawful appropriation of more than $1,000" and one count of "access to a computer for the purposes of fraud," was also ordered to pay restitution. According to prosecutors, Hastings, who worked for the company for 20 years, stole from the company from January 2004 until November 2005. She was arrested in February 2006. She allegedly used a line of credit held by one of the company owners, to cover the cash shortfalls. The money was spent to support a lavish lifestyle, including purchasing a farmhouse in Holliston with numerous dogs and livestock, making renovations to the property, and purchasing a motorcycle and other vehicles for herself, a boyfriend a others. She also allegedly purchased gifts for Dollar Depot Plus employees as "hush money," including tickets to sporting events, parties and even an automobile. The company owners, Joseph and Joann Pietrantonio, said that they had treated Hastings like a daughter. They reported that she feigned stage 4 cancer when they began asking questions about the finances and asked for documentation. The thefts had such an impact on the company that they had to close 2 stores to stay in business. The Pietrantonios have filed a civil suit against Hastings as well as against Bank Rhode Island and their accountant to try to recover some of the stole funds.

Read the story here, here and here.

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