Former bookkeeper gets eight years for theft

Odenton woman stole more than $350,000 from architectural firm

April 22, 2010|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

An Odenton woman was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday for stealing more than $350,000 from the Ellicott City architectural firm where she worked as an office manager and bookkeeper.

Jacqueline Gatton, 40, had pleaded guilty to theft for stealing checks from Architectural Collaborative during a five-year period. Howard County Circuit Judge Timothy J. McCrone sentenced her to 15 years, but suspended all but eight.

The money was discovered missing after Gatton was fired in July 2008 for "work-related issues" such as showing up late or not showing up at all. When co-owner Tom Hager examined bank statements and books left by Gatton, prosecutors said, he noticed checks made out to Gatton and signed by his business partner, Dave Robbins, with a stamp.

A six-month investigation found many pages of bank statements had been removed from the files, prosecutors said. The firm found folders with checks that had never been sent out or had been fraudulently entered as being paid to a vendor when they had been made out to Gatton.

Many checks had been made out to a CitiBank credit card account belonging to Gatton.

Gatton used nearly $270,000 of the stolen money to pay off a credit card account from August 2004 through June 2008, prosecutors said. She cashed or deposited other checks totaling nearly $60,000.

Over that four-year period, prosecutors said, Gatton made more than $230,000 from the company, but spent close to $600,000.

At the time, Gatton was making $1,400 a week from the company.

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