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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: embezzlement

Insurance agent gets 2 years for fraud

A former insurance agent and executive director of the Spokane Food Bank has been sentenced to two years in prison for fraud.

James K. Sokolis, 56, is to be on probation for three years after his release and pay about $356,000 restitution, which is the amount he admitted to stealing from a Coeur d'Alene insurance company.

Sokolis previously owned and operated Rockwood Insurance in Coeur d'Alene.
He sold his share of the business in August 2010 and was hired to work for the new company. He was fired after admitting to misusing client money.

Sokolis “had been juggling his clients’ funds for months, hoping to come up with enough money at the right time to bring all policies current,” according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by his lawyer, Chris Bugbee.

He pleaded guilty in March to three counts of insurance fraud and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Coeur d'Alene.

Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, commended the sentence in a prepared statement.

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those who are entrusted with other people’s money have an obligation to act honestly and for the benefit of their clients,” she said.

Bugbee described Sokolis as a “very well-respected” professional who has devoted much of his life to community service.

In addition to leading the food bank, Sokolis coached and served on the board for Spokane Youth Sports for about 20 years. He also served two years on the board for the Seattle YMCA and spent six years as the youth director of his church, according to the sentencing memorandum.
  

Spokane man admits stealing $350k

A Spokane man who embezzled more than $350,000 from a Coeur d'Alene insurance company has pleaded guilty to three federal felonies.

James K. Sokolis, 56, faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of probation when he's sentenced June 12 by Judge B. Lynn Winmill in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Sokolis pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of insurance fraud. Sokolis was an insurance agent who previously owned and operated Rockwood Insurance in Coeur d'Alene.

He sold his share of the business in August 2010 and was hired to work for the new company. He was fired after admitting to misusing client money. Sokolis misappropriated $356,629.46, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Feds: Woman stole from CdA tribal group

A Spokane woman is accused of stealing nearly $30,000 from the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Housing Authority.

Debora J. Zimmerman, 46, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury for embezzlement from an Indian tribal organization, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

An arraignment date has not been set.

The indictment alleges Zimmerman stole more $28,000 from the housing authority between September 2008 and September 2010.

If convicted, Zimmerman faces up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and not more than three years of probation. The case was investigated by the FBI.

Bank manager sentenced for $400k theft

A woman who embezzled  $400,000 from the bank she managed in North Idaho for 12 years is to spend 2 1/2 years in prison.

Mary Ann Head, 59, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene after pleading guilty in December to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution - Bank of America in Hayden Lake.

In addition to 30 months in prison, Head will be on probation for five years after prison and is to pay $400,000 restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

Head began misappropriating ATM funds in 1997 to cover overdraft fees for a longtime customer, according to court documents.

The man never repaid her the $100,000, starting a series of financial discrepancies that soon became a routine way for Head to pay her credit card debt.

Head lived with heavy stress for years as she deceived the bank, but that “pales in comparison to the enormous shame and sadness that weighs upon her.”

Head was caught in December 2009 when the bank installed a new ATM.

Her life has since unraveled.

“She has lost all of her friends as news of her case spread through the community,” according to her sentencing memorandum. She has sold her home in an effort to have money to pay toward restitution and currently lives in a motel…Her husband has moved to New Mexico to look for work and left her alone in Idaho to wait for sentencing.”

Head had no criminal history when she began stealing money from the bank. She has two children ages 37 and 23 and married her husband, Ricky Head, in 1972. She started at the bank as a part-time teller in 1993 and has never worked anywhere else, according to court documents.

Ex-bank manager admits $400k theft

A North Idaho woman who embezzled from the bank she worked at for more than a decade has been ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

Mary A. Head, 58, pleaded guilty Wednesday to making false entries in the books and records of a federally insured financial institution.

Head faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and five years of probation when she's sentenced Feb. 27 by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Coeur d'Alene. She is not in custody.

Head worked at Bank of America, 162 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden Lake, from 1993 to 2009 and was the assistant branch manager and banking center manager.

In 1997 she was given control of the ATM and charged with balancing the machine on a regular basis. That's when she started taking money from the ATM “and used it for a variety of purposes,” according to a grand jury indictment filed in March.

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling money.

Ex-clerk faces probation for $139k theft

A former Kootenai County deputy clerk accused of embezzling $139,000 over 10 years pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of grand theft.

Sandra Martinson, 62, retired in November from her career with the county, which spanned more than three decades. The embezzlement is alleged to have occurred for 10 years, ending in October.

Martinson is to receive a suspended prison sentence and will serve supervised probation.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 15: Police: Clerk's bad checks were easy to spot

Man stole $24k from 2 Spokane charities

A former treasurer for two Spokane charities who became involved with a cash-strapped woman he met at a spa has been ordered to repay $24,000 after pleading guilty to felony theft.

Curtis G. Wasson, 59, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft last week for embezzling from the North Lions Club and the Hillyard chapter of the Knights of Columbus. Along with restitution, he was credited for one day served in jail.

The North Lions Club is a non-profit group that helps people with vision or hearing impairments. Wasson had been the treasurer for at least 10 years. Group members began investigating Wasson after a donation check to a Spokane high school student who was volunteering with hurricane relief assistance bounced and the student was charged overdraft fees. Police believe Wasson stole about $18,000 from the group beginning in 2004.

Wasson also stole about $6,000 from the Knights of Columbus, a charity for the sick and disabled.

The group was due for an audit in February 2009, but Wasson, a self-employed tax accountant, delayed it, saying he was too busy. Washington Trust Bank advised group members of unusual activity in their account two months later.

Wasson wrote several unauthorized checks at grocery stores and also cashed 20 unauthorized checks between November 2008 and April 2009. He also wrote checks to Brandie Meyers, who police believe was desperate for cash to pay her child custody attorney.

Meyers told police she met Wasson while working at Suzi's Spa. She said she “provided Wasson with girls when he requested it” and that he paid her in exchange, and that he also helped her with money for her attorney.

Wasson later told police he paid Meyers for sex but that she used photographs and recordings to extort him. Records show Wasson and his wife of 27 years are divorcing.

Office manager admits to stealing $538k

A Colfax woman admitted Tuesday to embezzling $538,000 from the family-owned urology clinic in Pullman where she worked as a business manager.

Alicia E. Napier, 47, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of mail fraud and two counts of bank fraud in the case where she admitted diverting funds from Palouse Urology for her personal use between 2001 and 2009.

“Her mail and bank fraud scheme went undetected for so long because she was a trusted employee,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice wrote in a news release.

Though she likely get far less time, Napier faces up to 20 years in prison for the mail fraud and up to 30 years in prison for bank fraud when she's sentenced on Sept. 1

Feds: Ex-bank manager embezzled $500k

A former North Idaho bank manager is accused of stealing $514,000 over a 12-year period.

Mary A. Head is charged with false entries, a federal felony that carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

Head worked at Bank of America, 162 W. Hayden Ave. in Hayden Lake, from 1993 to 2009 and was the assistant branch manager and banking center manager.

In 1997 she was given control of the ATM and charged with balancing the machine on a regular basis. That's when she started taking money from the ATM “and used it for a variety of purposes,” according to the indictment.

In September 2009, Head's control over the ATM changed because the bank installed a new imaging machine. Three months later, she was confronted about discrepancies in the books, records and ATM statements and admitted embezzling more than $500,000, according to the indictment.

Along with the criminal charge, Head is being asked to forfeit the stolen money. She is not in custody.

A smiliar indictment was returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane. 

Melissa K. Garcia is accused of stealing $5,000 from U.S. Bank in Othello in July 2006. She's charged with bank embezzlement, which carries a maximum 30 years in prison.

Ex-clerk pleads not guilty to $139k theft

A former Kootenai County deputy clerk accused of embezzling $139,000 over 10 years has pleaded not guilty to a grand theft charge.

Sandy Martinson, 62, entered the plea Monday in 1st District Court. Her attorney, Frederick Loats, estimated in court documents that a trial would last three days. Grand theft is punishable by up to 14 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

When Martinson retired in November, a routine review of records revealed irregularities that led the county to suspect embezzlement, officials say.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall is handling the case because of Martinson’s more than three-decade career with Kootenai County.

Retired clerk suspected of major theft

Kootenai County’s former chief deputy clerk is suspected of embezzling $138,905 over a 10-year period ending in October, a Coeur d’Alene Police Department spokesman said this morning.

Sandy Martinson, 62, has not been charged or arrested, said Sgt. Christie Wood with the Coeur d’Alene Police.

However, Wood said, a charging decision is pending with the Bonner County prosecutor’s office, which is handling the case because Martinson worked for Kootenai County.

Read Alison Boggs' stories here and here.

Kid’s football league thief to repay $13,000

A woman who stole money from a children’s football league will repay nearly $13,000 and perform community service, a judge ruled this week.

Diann L. Brown, 50, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail with credit for one day served, but the sentence was converted to 232 hours of community service.

Brown pleaded guilty to second-degree theft before Judge Maryann Moreno. She was charged in May 2009 with stealing from the Pop Warner Football League where she worked as treasurer.

The league was started by a certified accountant and reserve officer with the Spokane Police Department, Steve Larsen, who began investigating embezzlement claims in 2007 after noticing suspicious activity in the organization’s bank account.

Brown, who had been appointed treasurer in January 2007, was removed from the board of directors, then wrote an e-mail to Larsen: “If you think I did anything wrong or inappropriate with the funds for Pop Warner,” Brown wrote, according to court documents. “… if you feel I owe Pop Warner any money, please give me an amount and I will gladly pay it.”

Now a convicted felon, Brown will be on probation for a year and is to repay the Pop Warner Football League $12,658.

May 8: Pop Warner’s former treasurer pleads not guilty

Rathdrum woman accused of $450,000 fraud

 A Rathdrum woman was arrested Monday on suspicion of embezzling more than $450,000 from a Post Falls doctor’s office.

Yolanda M. Williams, 36, is charged with grand theft and forgery for allegedly making fraudulent online transfers from the bank account of Post Falls Family Medicine into her personal bank account, Post Falls police said.

(Williams’ mug shot, taken today at the Kootenai County Jail, is at the right. Her Department of Licensing photo is at the left. It’s unclear what year the licensing photo was taken, but I would venture to guess it was a while ago.)

Here’s the rest of Sara Leaming’s report:

Williams, who worked as an office manager, began making withdrawals from the business accounts as far back as July 2003. The thefts were discovered Oct. 5, when management at the practice noticed funds were missing.

Williams is accused of altering bookkeeping records to erroneously show payments were made to various vendors, when they were not.

She also is accused of taking unauthorized checks from the business, forging them and depositing them into her own bank account.

Court records dated Oct. 20 show the clinic is seeking $451,289 in damages from Yolanda and Corey Williams.

Williams reportedly was cooperative with investigators when questioned about the missing money. She was booked into the Kootenai County Jail, where she remained Monday night.

The Post Falls Police Department called it the biggest fraud case they’d investigated.

Courthouse watch: 9.22.09

A financial scandal that ravaged a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding low-income people earned the last of two women responsible a felony theft conviction today.

Rachelle D. Solomon, 39, received no jail or probation but was ordered to pay $5,000 to Mid-City Concerns Meals on Wheels in a sentencing deal approved by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price.

“Ms. Solomon’s obviously very sorry about what she did,” her lawyer, Richard Agman, said in court. “Obviously, what she did was wrong.”

Solomon and Cheri Mataya-Muncton, 43, spent thousands of dollars in Meals on Wheels donations on a Florida vacation, Victoria’s Secret shopping sprees, video rentals, lunches, computer equipment, home upgrades and furniture while working for the agency.

Read the rest of my story on Solomon’s sentencing in tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review.

Read a story on Mataya-Muncton’s sentencing in June here, and check out a detailed report of the embezzlement in this story from last summer.

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