Prison for embezzler

Woman, 48, gets 12 years for stealing $522,000

August 08, 2008|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun reporter

When Jill Marie Moran had a back operation, her friends and employers Stephen and Rachel Rosa took her into their Ellicott City home and nursed her back to health. One year, they nearly doubled her annual salary with a $25,000 cash bonus. And once, they took her and her family on vacation to the British Virgin Islands.

Moran repaid those kindnesses by systematically stealing $522,000 from the Rosas' Monterey Bay Corp. over three years. Yesterday, she tearfully blew goodbye kisses to her family in a Howard County courtroom after Circuit Judge Diane Leasure sentenced her to 12 years in prison

"I can understand the money," Rosa said from his home in Reno, Nev. "The hardest part of this to understand ... I don't understand how people do that," he said about Moran's betrayal.

Moran forged Stephen Rosa's name on 122 checks over three years, spending $15,000 on cell phone bills alone. She also bought horses, a personal watercraft and trailer, a 2005 Dodge vehicle, electronics equipment, and took vacations, according to prosecutor Lynn M. Marshall. She said Moran converted $250,000 of the stolen money to cash that has never been accounted for.

"I feel very sad that this whole event took place," Rosa said after learning of the sentencing. He and his wife had invested family money in their small company, to replace money Moran was secretly siphoning away.

The thefts were discovered in 2005, when a vendor complained to Rosa that he had not been paid and the business owner investigated.

Moran quit her $30,000-a-year job at that point. Rosa's firm contracts with the military and the police, offering devices he invented that help during night combat and crowd control, according to the firm's Web site.

Marshall asked the judge to impose a sentence of 12 to 15 years, calling Moran a "selfish, greedy, parasitic person."

Moran, 48, showed little emotion as she apologized to Leasure. She made no mention of the missing money or restitution. In March, she pleaded guilty to two counts of carrying out a felony theft scheme.

"I wanted to apologize to him and his wife and daughters. I love them and miss them very much," Moran said after learning that the Rosas were not attending the sentencing. "My mind was not right. I'm sorry."

V. Peter Markuski Jr., Moran's defense attorney, said the woman suffers from bipolar disorder and has had numerous surgeries on her back, knee and shoulder. Moran takes multiple medications and is not working, he said.

Markuski said Moran has no previous criminal record, and he called the state's request for prison time "excessive." He asked for a sentence of five years or less.

Moran and the Rosas became friends through their children's equestrian activities in 1994. Five years later, Stephen Rosa hired Moran to manage his firm's office, according to testimony.

When Rosa opened a second office in Columbia, Moran was placed in charge of the Ellicott City office, which was then next to the Rosa family home.

The thefts devastated the Rosas and their business, Stephen Rosa said in a written victim statement.

"The result brought Monterey Bay to its knees and prevented us from pursuing an expansion opportunity that could have resulted in very rewarding jobs for Maryland professionals," he wrote. "We have lost faith that people can be trusted at their word and this has made it hard for us to consider reconstituting the company. Ms. Moran effectively killed that dream."

Moran could be eligible for parole in three years.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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