A Michigan woman charged with embezzling $135,000 from collection agency Mid-Michigan Collection Bureau, where she was employed, received a sentence of one year in jail and an order to pay restitution, Clinton County (Mich.) Circuit Court Judge Michelle Rick announced this week.
Elizabeth Stevens, 40, of St. Johns, Mich. - the same town where the agency is based - also received five years probation and was ordered to allow Mid-Michigan Collection Bureau to take out a $200,00 life insurance policy on the her and her husband. The company will pay the premiums and be the beneficiary, according to the Lansing State Journal. Stevens has paid $20,000 in restitution so far and a final amount due has not been determined.
Stevens was claiming to write checks to attorneys and law firms to handle cases the company was supposed to be responsible for. Instead, she was paying herself, Clinton County (Mich.) Prosecutor Chuck Sherman said. The damage to the company, he added, was more than just the money because numerous collection cases were never processed. Company officials said no client money was lost and the company now has prevention measures to keep such an incident from happening again.
Stevens had no previous criminal record and had worked for the company for 19 years, eventually becoming vice president of client services. She handled bookkeeping duties. She pleaded guilty in December.
Stevens was fired for excessive absences in 2012, before the embezzlement was discovered, according to company officials. In court, Stevens said she had a gambling problem that worsened when her husband lost his job.
The embezzlement is believed to have occurred between April 2011 and October 2012.