Monday, March 16, 2015
Pennsylvania Woman Sentenced For Embezzling $600K From Auto Dealership
From TribLiveNews on 3/11/2015:
A Lawrence County woman's request for home confinement as punishment for stealing nearly $600,000 from her employer was bold if not bordering on delusional, a federal judge said Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon sentenced Deborah Cassini, 62, of New Castle to 3 1⁄2 years in prison and three years of probation.
The former office manager for Three Rivers Volkswagen of South Hills, Cassini pleaded guilty in August to four counts of wire fraud and three counts of filing false tax returns.
Her thefts nearly drove the dealership out of business, said Kathi Tennant, president of the company.
We almost got padlocked three times, she said after the hearing. Bissoon ordered Cassini to pay $250,000 in restitution to the dealership's insurer and $397,000 to the dealership to cover her thefts and the cost of an audit that uncovered them.
The dealership is still recovering. It hasn't returned to the financial position it was in before Cassini began stealing, Tennant said.
We've gotten through the worst, she said.
Cassini apologized for her crimes.
I never thought it would come to this, she said. I never thought it would be this much money.
While Cassini worked at Three Rivers Volkswagen, she lived in Peters. Between 2006 and 2011, she used her online access to the company's bank accounts to make 163 payments to her credit cards and six payments on her BMW, prosecutors said.
She issued herself additional paychecks 98 times, regularly skimmed cash and wrote business checks to herself and to cash, prosecutors say. She concealed the thefts by making false entries in the dealership's accounting system and preparing false financial statements, prosecutors said.
This was a long, destructive course of embezzlement and lies, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Karl said. And it nearly destroyed Three Rivers Volkswagen.
Cassini embezzled money so that she could play slot machines to forget her depression and other problems, said her attorney, Douglas Sughrue.
Instead of cognitive therapy, she went to the casinos, he said.
Sughrue said Cassini didn't set out to steal $600,000. Most of the thefts were in small increments, and his client didn't total them to see how much she was stealing, he said after the hearing.
The vast majority of them, in fact, are what the government and I would call cash skimming, he said.
The evidence in the case showed she spent money on a lot of things other than gambling and generally was living beyond her means, Bissoon said.
The defendant stole until there was nothing left to steal, the judge said.