RICHLAND – The ringleader behind a nearly $900,000 theft from Zirkle Fruit Company has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison for a payroll scheme.
The Tri-City Herald reported 52-year-old Norma Garza pleaded guilty Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court to charges of leading organized crime and forgery.
Judge Cameron Mitchell went along with the sentence that was part of the plea agreement. He also ordered Garza to pay full restitution of nearly $865,000,000.
Garza didn’t speak in court other than to admit guilt. Her case is the first of 11 to be resolved. The whereabouts of her fellow bookkeeper, Maria Galarza, her husband and father are unknown.
The embezzlement was discovered after Garza and another bookkeeper were absent from work on payday.
Zirkle Fruit, a Selah-based company, is one of the largest apple and cherry operations in Eastern Washington.
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