A former employee of Coughlin Automotive was sentenced on Monday to drug treatment and community control for embezzling more than $54,000 from the London dealership last year.
Lisa Abner, 38, of Lewis Center, pleaded guilty in February to multiple counts of grand theft, forgery and tampering with records, stemming from incidents between June and October 2013.
Madison County Common Pleas Judge Eamon Costello sentenced Abner to five years of community control and ordered the woman confined to West Central Community Correctional Facility in Marysville for substance abuse treatment. Costello also ordered Abner to repay $54,109 stolen from the Coughlin dealership as a requirement of her community control.
Costello noted Abner has no criminal record and current Ohio law requires community control for the low-level felonies.
Abner, who had access to company bank accounts, wrote 22 checks to herself, then fudged payroll records to disguise the thefts, assistant prosecutor Nick Adkins said.
Defense attorney Terry Sherman said Abner’s theft resulted from an addiction to pain medication. In court paperwork, Sherman said Abner suffered a back injury in a 2009 fall. Doctors prescribed pain pills to relieve the woman’s symptoms, leading to her eventual dependency on drugs.
Citing current Ohio case law, Costello denied Adkins’ request for an additional $11,985 in restitution to Coughlin Automotive to pay the outside accountant hired to uncover the thefts.
Adkins said independent accounting was necessary to determine the exact amount of missing money. But Sherman argued the dealership’s attorneys, not the business, hired the accountant, who is an expert in analyzing fraud.
“That puts us one party apart,” Sherman said.
Costello also granted Adkins’ motion to seal Coughlin Automotive’s financial records that were used to prosecute Abner.
In other common pleas court action on Monday:
• Danielle Malone, 32, of London, was sentenced to 30 days house arrest and two years of community control for forging a $593 check at London’s Walmart, 375 Lafayette St., in October 2013.
Malone pleaded guilty to the charge in February.
Costello also ordered Malone to repay Walmart the $593.
Defense attorney Mike Murray said Malone has a substance abuse problem. Malone admitted smoking pot prior to Monday’s sentencing hearing.
• Costello postponed the jury trial of April Mills, 44, of Columbus, until July 22 at the request of defense attorney Seth Schertzinger.
Mills is charged with smuggling marijuana into London Correctional Institution on March 16.
Schertzinger requested additional time to determine long-term consequences of a conviction for Mills.
The woman is currently on parole in Kentucky for manufacturing crystal meth. Authorities in Franklin County are supervising Mills’ parole, Adkins said.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.