Office manager gets four years for embezzlement

The former office manager for a Burlingame tool company was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday in San Mateo County Superior Court for embezzling approximately $223,000 from the company between 2002 and 2004, according to the district attorney's office.

Lavon Johnson, 48, was fired from DTC Tool Company after her boss learned she had stolen the money by writing company checks payable to herself over a period from January 2002 until November 2004, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

The crime went undiscovered for about two years because Johnson falsified check stubs with payments to customers that were never made, Wagstaffe said.

On Aug. 23, Johnson agreed to plead no contest to the felony embezzlement charge, on the condition she be sentenced to no more than four years in state prison, according to Wagstaffe.

In court Thursday morning, Johnson's attorney Eric Liberman asked Judge John Grandsaert for leniency, saying his client lacked any previous criminal history, was remorseful, and had been caught up in personal problems and her abuse of prescription medication.

“She's a good person,” Liberman said. “She did something bad here and she did something bad over a long period of time.”

“I take full responsibility for what I did,” Johnson told Grandsaert. “It doesn't excuse what I did.”

Of her abuse of prescription drugs, Johnson offered, “Time had no meaning to me. It just went.”

“I just want to make it right,” she went on. “Without going to prison.”

“I see a three-year pattern of premeditated embezzlement, where the money was spent primarily for personal items,” Grandsaert responded, delivering the four-year sentence.

The company has since recovered about $65,000, $50,000 from insurance and $15,000 from a garnishment of Johnson's wages, Wagstaffe said.

— Bay City News

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