Embezzler is handed two-year jail termMINNEAPOLIS — A 58-year-old Welch woman will spend two years in prison for stealing more than $448,000 from her former employer.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
MINNEAPOLIS — A 58-year-old Welch woman will spend two years in prison for stealing more than $448,000 from her former employer.
Janet Sue Pederson was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court. She pleaded guilty in January to federal bank fraud for embezzling money from North American Trailer Sales in Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim dismissed a money laundering charge under conditions called for in a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Tunheim also ordered Pederson pay the company back in monthly installments.
“I’m sorry for all the people I hurt,” Pederson said Tuesday through tears, her family seated behind her. “I got into a merry-go-round. It just kept getting worse until I was buried.”
Pederson had access to the business’s checking account as the company’s office and human resources manager.
From January 2001 to July 2005, she wrote business checks to her personal bank and credit card accounts, forged signatures on the checks, and made false entries in the company books.
Lyonnel Norris, Pederson’s attorney, admitted his client was a gambling addict, but said Pederson’s lack of previous criminal history and the nature of her crime did not warrant prison time.
He asked the court to be “creative” with its sentence and keep in mind that Pederson would not be able to make speedy restitution payments behind bars.
“She lived her life responsibly. She did everything one would expect she would do,” Norris said. “The appropriate sentence is one that requires her to put the maximum amount of money into that restitution fund.”
The judge acknowledged Pederson’s “spotless background” and said she has been cooperative with investigators ever since she was indicted. Those factors, however, were outweighed by the large amount of money Pederson stole, Tunheim said.
“She made a serious and substantial impact on the company,” the judge noted.
Federal prosecutors were asking for a 33-month prison sentence, the lowest on the guideline scale.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Perzel agreed Peterson had been cooperative, but said she needed to be punished for almost capsizing a small business.
“It is sad she’s not going to be able to retire. It is sad she may have to work for a very long time,” Perzel said. “But these are all things the defendant brought upon herself.”
Pederson will report to custody at 11 a.m. June 9. She asked to serve her time at an Arizona women’s facility.
“Hopefully, the time will go by quickly and you can get back to your family,” Tunheim said. “This is a difficult situation.”
Pederson will be on supervised release for five years after serving her sentence. She must stay out of casinos and avoid gambling during that time, and will not be allowed to open any additional lines of credit without a probation officer’s approval.
Pederson must start making monthly restitution payments 30 days after her release from prison. Those payments, the judge ordered, can be no less than $200.