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Bookkeeper Who Stole $140,000 Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

January 22, 1992

The former bookkeeper for a Ramona firm who embezzled more than $140,000 from a disposal company was sentenced Tuesday to three years and four months in state prison.

Linda Marie Smith, 44, of Valley Center, was also ordered to pay $36,556.02 to the Ramona Disposal Service, which represents the amount that was still owed to the company.

The company sued the Ramona branch of San Diego Trust & Savings bank, which paid the company $140,000 to settle a negligence suit.

Smith's attorney, Jack Phillips, told San Diego Municipal Judge Charles Rogers the bank cashed checks written by Smith that had only her signature even though the checks required two signatures from the firm.

Deputy Dist. Atty. David Cox said two bank officials in the Ramona branch were demoted as a result of Smith's embezzlement. Cox said bank employees were Smith's neighbors and friends who were fooled, in part, because she was a longtime employee at the firm.

Cox and the probation department urged a four-year term.

Rogers gave Smith credit for 195 days previously served in custody, which included a three-month stay in state prison so officials could recommend a sentence to Rogers.

Although the judge cited Smith's lack of a record, good employment history, family ties, remorse and a desire to make restitution as arguments for probation, he refused to place her on probation because of the large amount of the thefts.

"This was not a onetime incident, two-time incident, or five-time incident. The losses to the victims were great," Rogers said. "There was opportunity after opportunity to stop and decline to do the next taking. I don't think probation is appropriate. Probation is denied."

Smith, who wore a gray jail jumpsuit, did not speak during the sentencing.

She pleaded guilty to grand theft on May 1, 1991. The thefts occurred between February, 1988, and February, 1990, when Smith left the firm.

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