Woman gets 15 years for second embezzlement

August 20, 2010|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

A Columbia woman found guilty a second time of embezzling from an employer received an unusually long 15-year prison sentence Friday in Howard County Circuit Court.

Tiffany Powers, 38, spent 18 months in prison after a 2002 conviction for stealing $320,000 from a previous employer, much more than the $28,500 she was convicted in April of stealing from Clarksville chiropractor Vaughn Dabbs.

But Circuit Judge Richard S. Bernhardt had no sympathy for her, despite sentencing guidelines that called for three months to two years in jail, and despite her having repaid Dabbs $6,000 of what she took over a six-month period in 2008.

"Your conduct is not driven by mental health issues or substance abuse," he told Powers, according to a spokesman for the county state's attorney. "You're a thief and you're a criminal."

Powers worked for about a year as Dabbs' personal assistant, and her attorney had claimed at trial that she had his permission to dip into a bank account used for his real estate company. She used the money she took beyond her $16 per hour pay for personal bills and her mortgage, according to evidence at the trial.

But Assistant State's Attorney Colleen McGuinn described Powers at trial as "a wolf in sheep's clothing," who took advantage of people's trust in her.

In the 2002 case, she had told police she'd taken the money from a temp agency where she worked in human resources to feed a drug addiction that resulted from being on painkillers after surgery for breast cancer.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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