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Monday, 14 May 2012 21:33

Acura Employee Faces 6 Years in Prison for $10 Million Theft

A former Acura dealership employee who stole $10.2 million from the Pittsburgh-area store where she worked could face six years in prison, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

In March, Patricia K. Smith, the former controller of Baierl Acura in Pine, Pa., pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges that included stealing $10.2 million over more than six years. She transferred money from Baierl to her own accounts more than 800 times from 2004 through 2011, according to the Post-Gazette.

Smith, 58, used the money for travel, gambling, gifts to friends, house purchases for herself and family members and purchases of large amounts of jewelry and other items on TV shopping networks. Smith turned herself in after another Baierl employee sent her an e-mail asking questions about transactions, the Post-Gazette reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Kaufman has argued Smith should serve a prison sentence of five to six years, while Smith’s attorney, Tina Miller, has argued that the correct sentence is three and a half to four years, the Post-Gazette wrote.

The government expects to be able to recover about $1 million for Baierl, Kaufman wrote.

Miller wrote that her client has spent much of the past year “repenting, accepting responsibility and doing everything she possibly can to pay back what she stole from her former employer,” and that the fraud stemmed from untreated “depression and from an abusive childhood, which resulted in compulsive behavior, including excessive spending, shopping and gambling,” according to the Post-Gazette.

Items that Smith and her relatives have turned over to the government since she turned herself in include four homes, 10 vehicles, Smith’s stock in a private airline company, more than $20,800 in cash that was in a bank account, over $30,000 in prepaid travel, 133 pieces of jewelry and 25 gold coins, the Post-Gazette reported.

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